The lowest rate guarantee on the web was started some three plus years ago and is one of the few marketing initiatives in the hotel industry that was followed by the airlines. By now, virtually every brand in nearly all segments of the industry offer it and the few that don’t are actively considering it. But does it really guarantee the lowest rate?
Marriott’s works like this “Make a reservation with Marriott. Then, we’ll give you the next 24 hours to look high and low for a better hotel rate. You can look anywhere. Look on the Internet. Call your travel agent or travel management company. Even doublecheck Marriott itself. If, in those 24 hours, you happen to find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type, and reservation dates, submit a claim form immediately. (You must submit the claim at least 24 hours before your hotel check-in time so we can properly verify each claim.) If the lower hotel rate you found qualifies, we will honor the lower rate and give you an additional 25% off that lower rate, subject to terms & conditions listed below” And what are those terms and conditions? Two among them the many in fine print “the Marriott rate and the “Comparison Rate” must be found, and a completed claim form submitted, within 24 hours and must be for the same hotel, room type and reservation dates. The same cancellation and advance purchase policies, and other terms and conditions governing the rates must apply. Marriott will verify the Comparison Rate within 24 hours of receiving your claim and notify you of the results. Because the claim must be processed before check-in, you must submit your claim at least 24 hours prior to check-in.” The probability of the average customer getting through all that print and seeing double is close to one. So who are those who actually go through all that trouble? More likely than not it is the inveterate complainer and scammers who scour the web looking for “freebies” from rate and 100% satisfaction guarantees. USA Today recently had a story on the “irate” guest that many hoteliers can easily relate. One helpful suggestion in the article is the creation of a national database – entirely voluntary – of troublemakers. Unlike our brethren in the airline industry, where the consequences for getting irate with airport staff can range from being unable to fly to outright arrest, hotels can do little to thwart the scammers. Having a list of such troublemakers can go a long way towards managing the problem.