So why not just book on the 3rd Party Site?
A great question! And the answer is simple; Frequent Traveler / Elite Status.
Lots of people who travel several times a year will collect points everywhere they go. From Airlines, to paying for Gas and Groceries to Hotel nights, will all be put on Credit / Elite cards. These points add up and allow some people to acquire status at the Hotel chains they stay in. Perks, such as free upgrades, free breakfasts, early check in / late check out, free drinks at the bar, along with numerous others, will be granted for travelers who hold such status levels. However, most Hotel chains will not grant these perks to those who booked through a 3rd Party Site and they will also not grant the points that one would normally accumulate also. That is why many of these travelers will book directly through the hotel, plus the extra % discount, or free night(s), for a successful claim, is icing on the cake.
What If I Meet The Criteria?
So do you meet all the criteria listed above? Congratulations, you maybe, just maybe, qualify as eligible for the Best Rate Guarantee. Yes, even if you meet all of the necessary prerequisites that make you eligible to receive such an offer, the hotel is likely to still give you a hard time. In fact, you would think that they were losing money the way some of these hotels combat the idea of following through on an offer they advertise.
Many eligible guests have missed out on these guarantees because of what hotels call their “service window.” This service window is essentially the 24-48 hour period between when a claim is made and when the hotel is able to respond. Of course, 48 hours seems almost insignificant at first thought, however two days is plenty of time to lose a lower, competing price. Ideally, all you would have to do is provide proof of the lower booking price, but hotel policies state that it is not the price that you see that matters, but the price that is listed when a hotel representative looks into your claim. Several chains are the exceptions to the service window dilemma, and are actually pretty courteous when it comes to granting customers the Best Rate Guarantee. Other hotel chains, however tend to be pretty stingy, and many stories have surfaced in the past regarding their poor efforts in providing customers with the guarantee they’re seemingly owed.
Issues like the afformentioned above are the reason many business and leisure travelers are looking to alternatives, such as Airbnb and other apartment rental sites. Of course this is always an option, assuming it suits your needs.