Booking directly with a hotel has several benefits compared to booking on an aggregator website like Priceline, Expedia or Hotels.com. For starters, you only earn hotel points, elite status benefits and credit towards earning elite status when booking directly with a hotel chain.
But perhaps the most overlooked benefit I like about booking direct is the ability to take advantage of a hotel chain’s best rate guarantee. Simply stated, if you find a cheaper price on another website than what the hotel is advertising, the hotel will match it and usually offer additional compensation even on top of matching the lower price.
While each chain has their own program, today I want to highlight Bilt's transfer partner IHG Hotels and Resorts’ Best Price Guarantee program.
IHG is so confident in offering the best price that they will not only match any lower rate you find, but you’ll earn 5X the usual amount of points you would on a stay — up to 40,000 points.
The process to submit a claim is simple, and starts with an online form you can find here.
You need to first make a reservation directly with IHG Hotels and Resorts for the property in question. You’ll then head to the claim form and fill out the required information of your IHG Rewards account and your existing reservation.
IHG asks for where you found the better rate, the dates it is good for (which must match the dates of your stay) and you then have a 2,000 character box to give any details about the rate you found. The form must be submitted within 24 hours of you making your reservation and at least 24 hours before you check-in to the hotel. Be as specific as possible on this form.
That’s it! You’ll submit the form and wait to hear back on whether your claim is approved. The rate will be adjusted and you’ll receive 5X the IHG Rewards points you normally would on that stay, up to 40,000 points.
There are a few things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me get my claims approved. In no particular order:
1. The room type you book with IHG must be the exact same room type you find on the website with the cheaper price — down to the number of beds and name of the room type.
2. The website you find the cheaper price on needs to be publicly available with no log-in required to find the rate. This means a site like Costco Travel can’t be used to submit a Best Price Guarantee form.
3. When making your reservation with IHG before submitting your claim, make sure that reservation is refundable unless you are absolutely going to stay there anyway.
4. The rate you find must be cheaper than the advertised rate by at least a dollar and that doesn't include foreign currency exchange rates you might see when switching between US dollars and the currency of the hotel you are trying to book.
You can read all the Best Price Guarantee terms and conditions here.
I always try and book directly with hotels to earn my points, elite benefits and elite status. I also find the customer service of booking direct to be much better than trying to call an online travel agency website.
Adding in the ability to get a lower rate matched AND bonus points on the lower rate is icing on the cake. Don’t forget to try your hand at a Best Price Guarantee search next time you book directly with IHG Hotels and Resorts.