Best price guarantees are just about useless

by Charlie Leocha on July 31, 2008

When an airline or a hotel says they have a “Best Price Guarantee” hold onto your wallet. We have detailed the problems with airline “guarantees” and now new research shows that hotels are failing with their “guarantees” as well.

Hotelscombined.com conducted a study of “guaranteed” hotel-owned-site prices against others found on the Web. Their results were dramatic and they clearly outlined the exact discrepancies.

Their conclusions —

The results indicate that hotel websites do not always offer the best available rate. What’s more consumers cannot count on hotel price guarantees as most guarantees must be carefully documented if consumers are planning to file a claim. Even then it can be difficult to extract the guarantee. Without this guarantee, however, it leaves loyal customers no choice but to book through online travel agents which offer better deals. And how are online travel agents offering better deals? They make hotels sign a lowest rate guarantee contract.

The only guarantee is that if travelers find lower prices elsewhere, getting any refund will be guaranteed to be difficult.

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  • Joe Farrell

    “If you pay more for a room on our BESTCHOICE rates, we will refund the difference.”

    Details: you must actually book and stay in the room at the exact property for the same time period. A receipt from that hotel mist be provided at the lower rate. We will refund the difference between the rate you paid and the rate offered, if you pay the higher rate. Prepaid rates are excluded from this guarantee.

    That is usually what the fine print states – which means you would need to book two rooms to get any money back Further, the LOWEST rates you see for a room usually require payment in full in advance since they are coming from a contracted or bulk purchase offer. Thus – I would say that 100% of the best rate guarantees are worthless. In fact, 100% of ALL travel offers are worthless. There are so many limitations and restrictions that they should be shown to middle schoolers in ‘How to Avoid Scams” class.

  • Carrie Charney

    Just this past week, I reserved a room for the weekend at a hotel in Columbus three days in advance. I had until the day before my stay to change my mind. I had reserved the room on the hotel’s website and, as usual, I went back to the website a day later to see if the prices had changed. Sure enough, the price went down $30 per night. So I made a new reservation and cancelled the old one. The same thing happened for a week’s stay in Lexington, KY last month. It always pays to check!

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