Category

Radisson

Why Olotels.com Is My New Favorite Site For BRGs

Andaz West Hollywood – Los Angeles

Next Friday, I am going to LA to “pre-game” the Domestic leg of the Star Mega DO 4. As I talked about last week in my post about Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee (BRG), I submitted a successful BRG claim at the Hyatt Regency Century City. That BRG got the rate down from $309 a night to $215 a night, which is a huge discount of 30% but the stay will still end up costing me a total of $747 for 3 nights.

Being trapped inside for the last 4 days due to Hurricane Sandy, I have been checking Kayak.com for any better deals at Hyatt because I don’t really want to spend $747 on a Hotel, regardless of how many points I might earn.

While searching Kayak.com, the Andaz West Hollywood kept teasing me by showing there was a price glitch, but in reality the glitch was Hyatt.com had the lowest rate and Kayak’s rate was higher.

Although I travel a fair bit, I still do live vicariously through Lucky and his massive Trip Report Index. I remember reading his Trip Report about the Andaz West Hollywood, as well at The Points Guy’s Review. I figure you only live once, so I might as well suck it up and stay at the Andaz West Hollywood. 

My Friend has 2 Free Nights from signing up for the Hyatt Visa from Chase (which is still available), but I decided we should save those for some other Hyatt that is more out of our price range.

Anyways, I ultimately decided on staying at the Andaz West Hollywood but didn’t really want to pay the $250 Hyatt was asking for, so I decided to dig a bit and see if I could find a BRG.

I searched Kayak.com, but came up empty handed. I almost gave up but then remembered one of my favorite tricks to get a successful Best Rate Guarantee….use a non-US based Travel Website. The reason for this is because foreign sites always goof up the pricing due to the currency conversion. Almost always you will find a pricing error if you search enough foreign sites.

The only reason I don’t talk about this trick or even bother with it is because Hotels are really picky about foreign sites. When you normally submit a Best Rate Guarantee form online, the Hotel will deny your claim for some ridiculous reason like they can’t convert Euros into Dollars, or something else dumb. Since you are submitting the form online, once you get denied, there is no way to convince them otherwise. 

Then of course, I discovered Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee and the fact that you can call in the BRG and walk them through the entire process!

How To Do A Best Rate Guarantee Using Foreign Travel Sites

1. Go to Kayak.co.uk

I have found Kayak.co.uk to be the best way to search Foreign Travel Sites. Similar to Kayak.com, Kayak.co.uk will point out if there is a pricing discrepancy! While it seems silly that you are searching a European website for a Hotel in the United States, I assure you this is the easiest way to find a pricing discrepancy.

So on Kayak.co.uk, I searched for Andaz West Hollywood and it came up as £141 a night at Olotels.com, while Hyatt.com was showing £178.

Currently 1 British Pound Sterling is worth $1.61 USD. I typically just plug whatever I see on Kayak.co.uk into Google and add “GBP” after it, and Google will auto convert the amount to USD. So in this case, Olotels.com’s 141 GBP = 227.72 USD and Hyatt.com’s 178 GBP = 287 USD, a difference of about $60.

The interesting thing is that all rates on Kayak.co.uk include Tax, so that is the final price per a night.

2. Call Up Hyatt At 1-888-964-9288

I originally thought you first had to make your booking at Hyatt.com before you could make a Best Rate Guarantee claim, however that IS NOT the case. If you find a cheaper rate online, you can call Hyatt first, have them verify the BRG and then Hyatt will book your new lower rate over the phone.

The reason why this is important because typically BRG’s are only valid on the lowest rate available at the Hotel, which are usually pre-paid and non refundable. Those are the rates you want to avoid because if your BRG is denied for some reason, you are stuck with the higher rate Hotel! Therefore it is better to call Hyatt first and have them verify the BRG before you book a non-refundable rate.

3. Walk Them Through The Process

The reason I previously said that Hyatt is my new favorite Best Rate Guarantee is because you can do the BRG over the phone and it seems that anything goes with them, as you will see below…

So in my case, Olotels.com was showing the lowest rate as 227.72 USD a night. The only issue with BRGs, is that to be valid, they typically have to line up identically with the Hotel’s website. If anything like the cancellation policy, tax, room description, type of bed, etc is off from the Hotel’s official website, then typically your BRG will get denied.

Below is the screenshot from Olotels.com. As you can see it say Double Room, and the Tax is included in the rate. Although you can’t see the rest of the page, the Room is semi-refundable if canceled before a certain date.

Whereas on Hyatt.com, the lowest rate is 100% non-refundable and pre-paid. Additionally the lowest rate is for a Andaz King room (not a double room) and the Tax is calculated separately.

Normally these types of discrepancies would be grounds for not validating the BRG even though obviously the rate on Olotels.com is significantly lower. In the event the BRG was denied, I could potentially just book the lower rate at Olotels.com, but because the reservations wasn’t booked at Hyatt.com, I wouldn’t earn any Hyatt Points or Elite Stay Credit.

Thankfully, you can simply call Hyatt and be on the phone with them while they verify the BRG. I thought I was going to have to argue this one out, but the Agent never questioned the Olotels.com rate. Once the BRG was verified, the Hyatt Agent made my Andaz reservation over the phone with the new lower rate. The best part is that even though the lowest rate on Hyatt.com was a pre-paid rate, the Hyatt Agent made my Andaz reservation fully refundable!

Although there are some instances (as you will see below) that I am given somewhat preferential treatment because I am a Blogger, in this case there was no way Hyatt knew that, so this BRG process is something anyone can do.

After I was booked at the Andaz, I got my Hyatt reservation via Email. From the original rate of $286 (including tax) a night at Hyatt.com, my rate was matched to Olotels.com’s rate of $226 (including tax) a night, plus an additional 20% off. However because the tax was included in the Olotels.com rate, Hyatt subtracted out the 14% tax on the $226 rate (taking it down to $194) and then took 20% off, which is awesome!

So my final rate pre-tax is now $155 a night, so in total my 2 night stay at Andaz West Hollywood will cost around $355 (after-tax)!

So basically I got a discount of around $217 after tax ($572 – $355) or a whopping 38% discount.

The best part about all of this is that my free Hyatt Diamond status from the Star Mega DO 4 posted this morning. So I went ahead and called in and used a Confirmed Suite Upgrade which got me bumped to an Andaz King Suite!

Even though I got a discounted rate via the Best Rate Guarantee, I am still eligible to earn Hyatt Points on my stay. I haven’t calculated exactly how many Hyatt Points I will earn but it will be significant because I’ll get a Hyatt Diamond Bonus, SMD4 Bonus, Hyatt 4th Quarter Promotion Bonus, and 5x Points from my Bluebird Card!

Basically this all goes to show if you spend some time, you can save some serious money with Best Rate Guarantees. All in all, from finding the BRG rate on Olotels.com and calling it in to Hyatt, it took about 25 minutes.

Radisson LAX – Los Angeles

Originally, I was just going to do 3 nights at Hyatt Regency Century City in Los Angeles, but then I remembered the Radisson Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night promotion so I figured I might as well get another free night.

Our flight gets in to LAX at 9:30PM Friday night and there is a Radisson right near the Airport. Given that we will probably just go to bed, it doesn’t matter where we are staying for the night. 

After I figured out what a great deal Olotels.com is for BRGs and got my Hyatt BRG approved, I decided to try it with Radisson.

On Kayak.co.uk, Radisson LAX was showing up as £62 or $100 USD via Olotels.com.

 While on Kayak.com it was showing $133, a difference of $33!

Unlike Hyatt, you can only submit your Radisson BRG claim online. I’ve had issues with them in the past, and it has taken me 3 or 4 tries to get my BRG approved. Not surprisingly, I ran into the same issue again after I submit this BRG claim.

Although the Olotels.com rate was clearly lower, Club Carlson denied it because it included tax and they couldn’t figure out how to match it to their higher rate that did not include tax. I emailed back saying that their logic didn’t make sense since they could just deduct the 14% tax out and re-calculate it.

I really do get mad when Hotels offer Best Rate Guarantees and then make you jump through every hoop imaginable to get the BRG match. In my opinion, this is a complete Bait and Switch. Anyways since Club Carlson didn’t want to approve my BRG even though it was clearly valid, I took to Twitter to express my annoyance.

Now there is a highly probable possibility that Club Carlson reached out to me because I am Blogger. However as you can see, I am sharing their email address with everyone so if you ever have any issues with their BRG, send your issues to the above email address and tell them I sent you : )

Anyways, I took Club Carlson up on their offer and forwarded my BRG to them, and magically it was approved.

While I am a huge fan of Club Carlson in general and appreciate them going out of their way to fix this issue, their BRG Representatives should be trained so this doesn’t happen in the first place! Guests shouldn’t have to Tweet their frustration to get these BRGs approved, when they are so clearly valid!

Anyways, thanks to the BRG, the rate dropped from $133 a night to $72 (including tax). That is a 46% savings!

On top of any Points I will be earning, the biggest benefit is that I will be receiving a Free Night Certificate as part of the promotion. I will probably use it at the $400 a night Radisson Martinique in New York, next time I am in town. Not a bad deal for $77!

Aria – Las Vegas

Given that I was 2 for 2 with BRGs, I decided to try my luck (no pun intended) and see what Olotels.com was showing for Las Vegas.

Not surprisingly, they came through once again and showed a rate of $178 (including taxes) compared to AriaLasVegas.com’s rate of $236 a night. 

Although Olotels.com’s rate of $178 is similar to the Virtuoso Rate I found a few days ago, you can’t use the Virtuoso Rate for BRGs because it is a special package deal.

That being said AriaLasVegas.com does have an additional 10% off if you submit a successful BRG. I haven’t submitted one yet because this Las Vegas trip isn’t until January, however it is definitely worth a shot.

Additionally Vegas.com has a “Double The Difference” BRG, meaning whatever the difference in rate, they will give you 2x that. So in this case, the difference between Olotels.com and Vegas.com is $58, so 2x that would be $116! So potentially I could get a room at Aria for $178 – $116 = $62 a night!

Once I get around to submitting that BRG, I’ll write an update on what happens however just from checking out Vegas.com, I know it is going to be a fight to get it down to $62 but that is half the fun!

Recap

Every Hotel I have checked on Olotels.com, I have found it to be cheaper than the actual Hotel’s website. Not to mention all the prices on Olotels.com include Tax.

That being said, outside of Hyatt, you can expect an epic struggle to get your BRG approved because it is a foreign site. However as you have seen, using Social Media you can shame the Hotels into approving your BRG.

Regardless of all this hassle, BRGs can save you a significant amount of money! In the case of the Aria example above, if Vegas.com approves my future claim for $62, I could stay 3 nights at Aria for $186, which is almost what it would normally cost for 1 night ($176) there. Since our flights are free on Southwest, basically outside of food and drinks, our only expense would be the Hotel, which split with another person would only be $93 a person…

Although it is great to be able to use Hotel Points for a free night, in the event you don’t have enough Points or their is no availability, with Best Rate Guarantees you can easily turn the regular rate in your favor!

Unless your trip is last second, there is absolutely no reason why you should ever pay full price to travel!

As always, it just comes down to a little Long Range Planning!

Parag

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Reminder: Radisson Stay 1, Get 1 Promo Ends Oct 31st

Reminder

Just a friendly reminder, the Radisson Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free promotion ends on October 31st.

The promotion is good for stays through December 31st, you just have to make your reservations by October 31st.

I talked about the promotion in detail and how to stack it to get an even bigger discount, so if you are planning on taking part in this promotion, please read that post here.

I already did 1 stay at the Radisson O’Hare for $77 during the Chicago Seminars, earning 1 Free Night Certificate.

The Free Night has already posted, so I am going to use it at the Radisson Martinique – New York when I fly out of JFK in February for the Alitalia mistake fare to Madrid.

I was actually walking to Dinner last night in Korea Town and accidentally walked passed the Radisson Martinique. Looks pretty nice and is in a pretty decent location within walking distance to Penn Station and Times Square.

As for the price, the going rate was $242.10 ($281 after tax). I paid around $77 for my O’Hare stay which earned me the Free Night Certificate, so all in all I saved $204. I will probably split the $77 with my friend, so it should only cost us $38.50 each! We are staying here in February, so not really peak tourist time, but normally this Hotel goes for around $400+ a night. If you have an upcoming stay in NYC, I’d recommend doing this promotion.

Scaling The Promotion

Although 1 free night is great and is saving me around $204, I have a lot of Family and Friends in NYC, so I am here often and rarely here just for 1 night.

Club Carlson’s loyalty program rules are really lenient, that you can just go online and change the name on the account for free. This is something that no other Airline or Hotel loyalty programs ever allow.

So in an attempt to stock up on these Free Night Certificates, I simply used a few different email addresses, and booked two 1 night reservations at Radisson LAX. One for was my upcoming LA trip in a week, and then the other is for Frequent Traveler University at the end of November. Both of these stays are actually legitimate stays and not just Mattress Runs, so I figure I might as well get 2 Free Night Certificates from my stays. Each night is going to cost me around $100, but again as you saw above, by redeeming it in NYC, it automatically pays for itself many times over.

Once the Free Night Certificates post to each account, I will simply just go to ClubCarlson.com and merge them with my main Club Carlson Account in which I have Elite Status.

If you are married or are seeing someone, you don’t even need to make multiple accounts because Club Carlson allows mergers and point transfers of accounts that don’t have the same name or address. Really it is the Wild West with Club Carlson and anything goes!

As I talked about in my previous post on the topic, if you have any holiday plans like going to see Grandma for Thanksgiving or flying to visit your Family, try and squeeze in a Radisson stay if you can. Almost all major Airports have a Radisson and it will probably be only around $100 a night. The Free Night Certificate that you earn is good until December 2013, so you have a full year to use it! Also most of the rates for Radisson are fully refundable, so you can book it now as part of this promotion and then go cancel it for free if needed.

A lot of people at first are confused about the idea of Mattress Run, in which you pay for a Room solely for the purpose of earning Points or a Free Night Certificate, but in reality it is that you are paying up front for a service down the line. Even if you pay $77 and don’t stay at the first hotel, once you have your Free Night Award, you will use it and actually stay at the hotel. As I always say, you can pay a few bucks now (in my case $77), or you decide not to do it and then scramble at the last moment to find a cheap hotel and pay $281 down the line. At the end of the day, it is all about long term planning.

Bottom line is that this promotion is awesome, so I suggest everyone take advantage of it. I suspect Club Carlson will again bring back their 50,000 Point Free Big Night promotion again in the Spring of 2013, so doing both of these promotions could net 2 free nights for around $200ish. Not a bad deal!

-Parag

Radisson Stay 1, Get 1 Promotion & Why It Is Awesome

Last week, I posted a quick blurb about Radisson’s Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free promotion.

After reading the fine print and seeing that the Free Night Certificates could only be used in North America and not abroad, I decided not to take advantage of this promotion since it didn’t seen very valuable.

Unfortunately there are only 2 Radisson’s Blu Hotels in North America.

One is in Chicago, so I can’t imagine why I would ever stay there, and the other is in St. Maarten.

Although I live in Chicago, since I am going to the Chicago Seminars this weekend near O’Hare, I decided to look at how much the Radisson O’Hare is.

For Friday, after tax it is $134 a night, which is a little to rich for my blood given that I could just go back to my Apartment and stay for free.

However after reading the FAQs for the Radisson Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free promotion, I saw this little tidbit.

This is significant because as you can see below, for only 5,000 Club Carlson Points, you can almost cut the nightly rate in half.

So instead of $134 after tax, it is now only $71.40 which is definetly in my price range!

It Gets Better

While $134 was a bit much, for $71 this quickly turned into a deal.

While not everyone will have the necessary 5,000 Points to do Cash & Points, if you did the Club Carlson 50,000 Point Giveaway a few months ago, you should have some.

What makes this better is that there are a few other stackable promotions you can also take advantage of. Daraius from Million Miles Secrets outlined them here.

The first one is the actual Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free promotion. You can register here.

The second one is that you can earn 2,000 Bonus Points for your stay by registering here. Not sure if Cash & Points qualify, but worth a shot.

The third one is that you get bonus points for booking your stay at Radisson.com. No registration necessary.

If you are a regular member, you get 1,000 Points for booking at Radisson.com. If you are Silver or Gold (as I am), you get 2,000 Points.

This is on top of the 20 Points per $1 you earn as a Club Carlson Member, 30 Points per $1 if you are Gold.

So assuming that all these promotions hold true, on my 5,000 Points & $71.40 booking, I should earn:

  • 1 Free Night Certificate (valued at $400 if I redeem in it NYC)
  • 2,000 Points Online Booking Bonus
  • 2,000 Points 1 Night Stay Bonus
  • 2,142 Points = 30 Points Per $1 x $71.40 Rate

So basically for spending 5,000 Points, I should hopefully earn between 4,142 – 6,142 Points back…

It Gets Even Better

If the idea of spending 5,000 Points to earn the same amount or more back is astonishing, consider that via TopCashBack.com, you can also get 8% Cashback on your Radisson purchase.

So instead of $71.40 out of pocket, via TopCashBack, I should get a nice $5.70 back!

Certainly not anything to write home about but it is better than nothing.

Additionally if you have a Chase Freedom Card, in Quarter 4 you can get 5% Cashback on Hotels.

So simply by clicking thru TopCashBack and paying with your Chase Freedom Card, you can get 13% off your bill.

If You Really Want To Go Big

I’ve talked about Best Rate Guarantees before and how valuable they can be.

Marriott and Radisson both offer the highest rate in the industry at 25% off.

That means if you find a lower rate for the same hotel room on a different site, they will match that lower rate and then knock 25% off that price.

This can save you a ton of money because if a room on Marriott or Radisson is $300 and you can find a lower rate on Kayak.com for $225, the Hotel will match the $225 and take an additional 25% off, lowering the price to $168.

That is a a whopping 44% off!

Thankfully with the help of Kayak.com, it is extremely easy to find BRGs.

I searched Radisson O’Hare and found a BRG for this upcoming Sunday to Monday.

Radisson is showing $163 while Kayak is showing $102!

After the BRG, the rate would be $76.50!

Where To Use Your Free Night Certificates

As I stated earlier, I was turned off by this promotion because you can’t use the Free Night Certificates in Europe, like I just did with my 100,000 Points I earned via Big Night Giveaway.

That being said, there are some places to redeem your Free Nights that make this promotion is worthwhile.

Most of those happen to be big cities like New York, Chicago, etc.

A full map of Radisson locations can be found here.

In my case, I realized that Radisson has a couple properties in New York City.

I’ve been there before many times, and know first hand how impossible it is to find a decent hotel for less than $200 a night.

Since my Cousin lives in NYC, I know I will be visiting her again sometime in the next year, so I figure for $71.40, I should stock up on a couple free nights given how expensive NYC Hotels are.

Similarly if you ever want to visit Chicago, I’d recommend taking advantage of this promotion because the Radisson Blu Chicago is brand spanking new and is actually really nice (reminds me of a W Hotel).

Depending on the season, it can be upwards of $300 a night!

Currently it is only $259.

Recap

While this Radisson promotion is not for everyone, this Cash & Points development certainly makes this promotion extremely valuable.

If you have any upcoming trips planned and need a hotel stay, I’d recommend doing this promotion.

Similar to what I did with the targeted SPG Free Night promotion, basically with this promotion you are spending money up front on a throw away hotel so that you can get a free night at a more expensive hotel down the line.

This is called Mattress Running!

As with everything, it all comes down to Long Range Planning!

Would you prefer to spend $80 now so you can save $400 down the line, or do you prefer to wait until the last moment and pay the $400?

Remember that with this promotion, you only have to Register and book your Radisson Hotel stay by October 31st. You have until December 31st, 2012 to actually complete your stay.

So if you have to visit Grandma over Thanksgiving, see if there is a cheap Radisson along the way.

You can book it now and always cancel later for free.

As for the Free Night Certificates, they are valid until December 31st, 2013.

-Parag