Having written a perhaps-too-strongly-worded condemnation of best rate guarantees in the past, based on the fact that hotel chains are too slow to respond and are relentless in their quest to disqualify seemingly-eligible claims, I feel that I owe it to my readers to report on a successful "Look No Further" best rate guarantee claim I recently made with Marriott.
My mother e-mailed me a few days ago, saying that she had booked a cancelable, week-long reservation at a Courtyard Marriott in Portland, OR through Travelocity, since it was about $51 cheaper than the flexible rate she found on Marriott's website. She wrote me to ask whether she would earn points for the stay.
I told her she wouldn't earn Marriott Rewards points since the reservation was made through a third-party website, but that the amount she was saving was worth much more than the points she would earn on an eligible rate. Meanwhile, I sprung into action.
To make a Look No Further claim, I first made a refundable reservation on Marriott's website at the $169 (before taxes) Best Available Rate. After confirming the $118 Travelocity rate was still available, I then submitted a Look No Further request through Marriott's website.
Looking through the cancelation policies for the two rates, I immediately noticed a problem. As I wrote to my mother:
The trouble is that that [Travelocity] rate has a cancellation of 4 pm February 7, while the “best available rate” at Marriott has a cancellation of 6 pm February 8. That’s the kind of difference that they typically use to deny a best rate guarantee claim.
So I told my mother to hold onto her Travelocity reservation while I waited to hear back from Marriott.
Imagine my surprise when about 5 hours later I opened my e-mail to see this message from Marriott:
We have reviewed your claim and have made the following modification to your reservation:
That rate reflects the 25% discount Marriott gives on successful Look No Further claims.
I still think the best you can say for Best Rate Guarantees is that there's no harm in making a claim.
Be sure you make freely cancelable, non-prepaid reservations, and do your best to find rates that are as similar as possible with respect to room type and cancelation policies. Then, submit your claim and cross your fingers.
But don't rely on these guarantees being accepted, since there are still far too many ways the hotel chains can deny a claim, and you won't have any recourse if they do – except booking through the cheaper, third-party booking channel!