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Thailand - Starwood Best Rate Guarantee

Old May 1st, 2006, 06:44 AM
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BnS
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Thailand - Starwood Best Rate Guarantee

Has anyone had any luck in making a claim against any Sheraton or Meridien hotel Best Rate Guarantee?

My experience tells me that this whole thing is nothing but a deception/scam.

The hotel website claims that they have the lowest rates and if you find a lower price within 24 hours of your reservation you may lodge a claim and they'l give you an extra 10% off the lower price.

Well, they put so many conditions that will ensure your claim will fail.

Believe it or not, my claim was initially rejected because the hotel I chose, the Khao Lak Meridien, was classified under Khao Lak area, not under Phang Nga area (at the competitor's website). Duh?
Then without any explanation, they change their reasoning to the fact that Asiarooms price (competitor's site) include breakfast and parking.
This voids my claim even though Asiarooms' rate including breakfast was still LOWER than the room only rate at the hotel. Is this a deception or what?

I don't understand why they bother to promote the Best Rate Guarantee Program if they have no intention of giving the best rates! The program is their mask in claiming that they have the lowest rate.
I find this DECEITFUL.

I would like to hear other people's experience with this program.
I will also post my correspondence with them if anyone is interested.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 07:15 AM
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BnS, a thought: Have you tried posting on the Starwood board at Flyertalk.com? There is a Starwood Service VP called "Starwoodlurker" there who reads that and responds to complaints (and also positive postings, and ives the posters there a heads up on ways to get points, etc.) almost every day. I am pretty sure he'd respond to you on that board, and I have seen him take care of some situations where people had not gotten the proper treatment or relief from their problem/gripe. Worth a try.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 07:21 AM
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Thanks, I will give it a try.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 01:08 PM
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I'm not sure about Starwood but I had similar problems with Hyatt.

When I showed the lower rate they said that the comparison didn't include breakfast. I was able to demonstrate that all rooms at the Hyatt and Yogyakarta include breakfast. Then they told me that though the price at hoteltravel.com was far lower they wouldn't match it because it included tax! It was too late to cancel and although it pained me I paid their higher rate! Incredible.

Interestingly I had no problem cancelling the Oriental and rebooking through the cheaper offer.

What I learnt - that often and particularly in Asia you can get better rates through companies like www.hoteltravel.com and others and that it's just not worth booking directly.

I'm considering the Marriott for a Bangkok stay this July and there is no comparison between the hotel's prices and the prices offered by consolidators.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 03:00 PM
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What I've learned about these best rate guarantees is that the two rates have to be for the exact same thing. If SPG has a deluxe room for $240.00 and another place has a junior suite with breakfast and transfers for $120.00 you can't invoke the guarantee...apples and oranges. Inclusions in one rate that are not included in the other also are not valid for best rate guarantee claims. Opaque channels of bookings, like priceline, also don't qualify, as you don't know the hotel you are actually booking. The best rate guarantee essentially applies only to published rates, not to wholesale and discount rates. So you could probably use it if expedia or travelocity had a better rate for the exact same room and conditions, but not a site like asiarooms, as it doesn't sell published rates. Also, a prepaid rate compared with a rate paid on checkout does not qualify...different terms.

What it comes down to in many cases is whether you are willing to prepay your stay, as most discount sites require, or you want to pay upon checkout, which direct booking allows.

And, if you want to get points and benefits of your preferred member membership, you can't book at another website anyway. So if you are one to collect points, those other websites are of little use to you other than as a reference point to ask the hotel if they will match the rate you found...which I've found that they often do for the asking.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 03:26 PM
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Here is a link to information about best rate guarantee. IMO, it's pretty clearly spelled out what qualifies and what doesn't, so I wouldn't say it's deceitful at all. Difficult to invoke...sure, but not deceitful.

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/bestrate/index.html
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 01:11 AM
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I was comparing the same room items except breakfast and tax was already included in the price at Asiarooms.
I understand that booking through the hotel has one advantage: payment at the end. But this is where it becomes crucial: If the hotel insists all has to be identical then it could never be and therefore all claims (when compared thru advenced payment websites) will fail.
No other independent travel agents will let you pay at the end, they are not setup that way.

So my point is: Why setup the whole exercise just to fail?
Common sense prevail that if you can get rooms sold with breakfast and tax at less than room rate only, the hotel is not giving you the best rate.

What frustrates me is to classify breakfast or parking as a package and that they do not honor claims against packages.
The hotel does sell breakfast too!

I completely understand that claims need to have boundaries. Nevertheless it feels like a deception when the boundary almost always sets you up to fail.

Mind you Kimjapan, you are only given 24 hours to lodge your claim.
Isn't that limiting enough?
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 02:12 AM
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This may be off on a sideline but no ways would that resort "charge for parking" anyway, the whole concept of paying to put your car in a hotel car park in Thailand is just "non existant" ( maybe someone knows some place in Bangkok that doesn't have it's own car park so you might have to pay ) but when it comes to a place like le meridien Khao Lak parking fee doesn't come into it.

BnS as purely a matter of interest can you share with us what the rate was and what the resort's own website offered ? Would be interesting.

Just to add also that on booking sites you often do 'not' have to pay the whole lot when you book, many you only have to pay 1 night deposit ( sometimes more depending on the hotel ) and the balance you pay a few weeks in advance, you certainly don't have to pay the whole lot when you book.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 02:49 AM
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It is set up to be difficult to use the best rate guarantee. On purpose. The 24 hour time limit is understandable given that rates change over time based on supply and demand, historical and projected occupancy. Another real benefit of direct booking is that if the rate does go down after you've booked, you can change to the lower rate. This is not easily done with booking sites...it's entirely up to them whether they change your reservation to the lower rate or not...you might have to pay a cancellation/change fee to do it, where with direct booking it can be changed without hassle at all.

While hotels do sell a percentage of their rooms at discount rates to wholesalers and discounters, the rooms they allocate at those price levels are limited...that's why you can't get immediate confirmation from places like asiarooms...they have to check first to see if the hotel will give them a room at that rate. Other places buy up a number of rooms for a set period of time for a set price, then resell them to guests at whatever rate they please...sometimes higher than direct, sometimes lower than direct.

The guarantee is designed to mean that you are assured of paying the lowest PUBLISHED price for your room by booking directly. asiarooms.com, sawadee.com, asiahotels.com ...that type of place...they don't offer many published prices...and as such, you can't use the guarantee.

James is correct in that not all booking sites require prepayment, but most do, at least a deposit. And most charge a fee to change or cancel your reservation.

It always pays to check all of your options. And in the case of finding cheaper unpublished rates, ask the hotel directly if they will match or beat the rate. In my experience, they do. That doesn't help with the extra 10% the best rate guarantee promises, but at least you get the cheap rate with the benefits of booking directly.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 03:29 AM
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Kimjapan, I don't know what your definition of published rate is but the fact that I can enter the dates on Asiarooms and get the rates online, it is published too, isn't it?

I don't think you can expect public to know the ins and outs of how they sell their rooms.
The bottom line is they are not giving the Best rate and when you claim against it they have setup enough rules to ensure your claim to be rejected.
I feel setting the rule of breakfast as a package to reject claims is a clear setup since the hotel sells the same package (breakfast) too. It would be diffrent if they define package to be, say airfare or city tours, etc.




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Old May 2nd, 2006, 04:18 AM
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As for the details of my booking: Jan 11-15.
They are selling the deluxe room for USD135 +17.7% tax and charges (total= USD 158.90), the Asiarooms website offers AUD193 including tax, 2 breakfasts AND free parking?? This is equivalent to USD145.

Basically the difference in value alone is at least around USD 50 a night without the 10% BRG.
I did not know about the free parking, I don't even need it.

At the beginning my claim was rejected on the basis that Asiarooms put the hotel under Khao Lak, not Phang Nga.
When I disputed that this reasoning is not part of the BRG terms & condition, then they came up with the "package" excuse without mentioning the first excuse.
I felt that no matter what it was, they'll keep coming up with another reason why your claim should be rejected. They'll find an excuse eventually since they want to make the whole process watertight.

So it was not just about the 10%, it was about putting the money where the mouth is, the best rate guaranteed!


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