Best Rate Guarantee is Suddenly Revised by InterContinental Hotels Group

Once upon a time, InterContinental Hotels Group offered what was considered to be arguably the most generous best rate guarantee in the lodging industry with which your first night was free of charge if you could find a better eligible rate elsewhere..

Best Rate Guarantee is Suddenly Revised by InterContinental Hotels Group

Best rate guarantees are offered by lodging companies to promote and encourage booking reservations directly through their official booking channels and not shop for room rates elsewhere. This typically saves lodging companies from having to pay commissions to external booking channels which handle reservations.

Some customers might say that a strong point of InterContinental Hotels Group was the best rate guarantee, which offered the free night for a successful claim — even if a guest was only staying one night at a hotel or resort property — despite the terms and conditions of the former policy…

“We’re so sure the best prices for our hotels are found on our websites that we were the first to offer the most powerful price guarantee ever by a global travel company. Every hotel reservation booked through an IHG web site is guaranteed to have the lowest room price (room rate) or total room cost (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the internet or IHG will provide the first night’s room price free and match the lower average nightly room price found for that stay for the rest of the nights of that stay (subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Guarantee). That’s our Best Price Guarantee and just one of many benefits you get with the Book With Us Advantage.”

…but that policy suddenly changed on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, when the revised best rate guarantee appeared — and without any warning or advance notice:

“When you book directly with us, we promise you’ll always get the lowest price online. If you find a better price somewhere else, we’ll match it and give you five times the IHG® Rewards Club Points, up to a 40,000-point maximum — so you can focus on your stay, not your wallet.”

Amongst the terms and conditions of the new best rate guarantee are the following terms:

The 5X Points Award will be calculated on the room rate only, and will not include any other charges billed to your hotel room portfolio. To receive the 5X Points Award, your IHG Rewards Club number must be added to your reservation before check-out at the hotel. IHG Rewards Club Members with a miles earning preference will earn Points.

The 5X Points Award for a valid Program claim will not exceed 40,000 points.  The portion of the 5X Points Award that is above and beyond what you otherwise would have earned on the room rate for your stay, will be awarded as bonus points and will not count towards your IHG Rewards Club membership tier status. The 5X Points Award will have no effect on, nor be affected by, the points you would otherwise earn for your hotel stay, pursuant to the IHG Rewards Club Terms and Conditions.

“Well, we’ve had a good (but bumpy!) ride”, FlyerTalk member IAN-UK opined. “This will be far easier for IHG to run, and might create an easier and more relaxed process…”

The reason why the change in the Best Rate Guarantee is unlikely to be popular — according to IAN-UK — is that “For an extra few thousand bonus-only points it’s really not worth the faff. Depending on the price difference, it could be more sensible simply to book through the cheaper channel.”

Lowest Price Promise in Europe Not Affected

Keep in mind that the Lowest Price Promise — which is only available in certain countries in Europe and is not to be confused with the Best Rate Guarantee — remains unchanged for now, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy:

“We guarantee that the IHG Websites will have our lowest room price (room rate) or total room cost (including all taxes and fees) available on the internet. Therefore, if you find a room price (room rate) and total room cost (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the internet on a non-IHG Website (as defined below) within 24 hours of booking, that is either the same as or lower than ‘Your Rate’ for a Matching Room on Matching Terms (as defined below) on an IHG Website, IHG will provide your first night’s room price free and, if the rate found is lower, match the lower average nightly room price found for that stay for the remaining nights of that stay…”

Summary

The first report I spotted pertaining to the change in the best rate guarantee was from this article which was posted at You Have Been Upgraded.

Perhaps I am incorrect, but the former best rate guarantee policy seems to have benefited all customers — whereas only members of the IHG Rewards Club frequent guest loyalty program will seem to fully benefit from the revised policy due to the payout in points instead of a free night.

I have never invoked the best rate guarantee with InterContinental Hotels Group; but I have benefited from the best rate guarantees of other lodging companies. If you are willing to put in some effort and play your cards right, you can save a significant amount of money on best rate guarantees — as long as you abide by the usually strict terms and conditions in order for your claim to be eligible with the best rate guarantee…

…but was the change in policy for the best rate guarantee too significant; or could there have been a compromise which would have still rendered it attractive enough for customers to book directly through the official channels of InterContinental Hotels Group?

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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