Special offer rates are the hotel guest’s best rate friend, but also are the traveler’s biggest challenge for quickly finding the lowest rate for your hotel stay.
Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research published a new report on hotel revenue management last week. The report reiterates one of the hotel industry’s primary strategies for getting more money from the hotel guest:
“Bundle services into packages that disguise room rates.”
Loyalty Traveler goes into HD (hotel detail) mode with today’s rate analysis by concentrating on the myriad of special offer rates available at one hotel, The Nines, Portland, Oregon, over one Labor Day weekend.
Here is my Loyalty Traveler detailed room rate analysis to illustrate how hotel revenue management rate strategies are a time-consuming endeavor for the guest seeking the best value for a hotel stay at a particular upscale or luxury hotel. It is difficult to know which special offer will truly be a good value until you plug in some dates and give the hotel rate slot machine a spin.
To save readers from needing to read the entire analysis I will tell you the results up front for The Nines this Labor Day.
The Nines Hotel, a Starwood Luxury Collection property is available for $126 per night for a 3-night stay over Labor Day weekend with the 3rd night free special offer rate.
The Nines has been open for less than a year in downtown Portland, Oregon. I stayed last November a few weeks after the hotel opened for $199 per night and that was a discounted rate. Rates this past winter fell to as low as $99 per night. Here is my Loyalty Traveler hotel review from last year with several photos. http://boardingarea.com/blogs/loyaltytraveler/2008/11/12/the-nines-starwood-luxury-collection-portland-oregon/
The 3rd night free offer from Starwood Hotels reduces the nightly room rate from the default rate of $189 per night to $126 per night for a 3-night stay over Labor Day weekend. The hotel has a true 3rd night free offer of 33% off the lowest rate. The Ivy Hotel , Minneapolis (yesterday’s rate analysis) also has a 3rd night free offer that was not the best deal for the lowest rate rooms over Labor Day weekend.
Loyalty Traveler’s Comparative Rate Analysis for
The Nines, Starwood Luxury Collection, Portland, Oregon
September 4-7, 2009 for 3 nights.
Searching Rates for Online Travel Agencies
I start hotel rate searches with an initial search of online travel agency rates for comparative purposes to Starwood Hotels. Rate discrepancies may be applicable to a Best Rate Guarantee claim with Starwood Hotels for 10% off the total nightly rate or 2,000 bonus Starpoints ($70 value).
In 14 Starwood hotel stays in May 2009 I received Best Rate Guarantee adjustments to a lower rate found on an online travel agency website for 8 stays resulting in 16,000 bonus Starpoints in addition to the lower hotel room rate found with the online travel agency. Loyalty traveler post on Best Rate Guarantees.
The default rate on the hotel chain website is typically the same rate shown on websites for Online Travel Agencies (OTA) such as Expedia.com, Kayak.com, Travelocity.com, and Orbitz.com.
An interesting result for a search of The Nines for a 3-night stay, September 4-7, 2009, is a different rate was found for each of the three major OTA sites of Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity. I do not see this occur often.
Expedia.com = $139 rate for Friday (Superior room eligible for Best Rate Guarantee claim with Starwood Hotels? Only Deluxe rooms are shown on Starwood website. This may qualify for a BRG claim. Starwood will notify you within 24 hours if the $139 rate will be matched by The Nines.)
$189 for Friday and Saturday, but no availability is shown Sunday night on Expedia.
Travelocity.com = $189 per night
Orbitz.com = $215.67 per night (Club Floor Deluxe) No availability shown for regular Deluxe room without Club Floor access.
Kayak.com = $189 per night.
GTAHotels = $255 per night (I have had good luck in the past finding BRG rates with GTA Hotels.)
Starwood Hotels Basic Rate Searches: Default rate, AAA rate, and senior rate
Rate Search #1 – Default rates
Look on Starwood Hotels main website for Portland, Oregon and “from $189” is the rate shown for The Nines Hotel.
Click on the $189 rate and Starwood’s “recommended” rooms and rates are shown. These are all rooms with 2 queen beds with or without Club Floor access. The only room with a King bed is shown as a Club Executive Suite with a rate of $950 per night for Friday September 4 for a 3-night Labor Day weekend stay. I’d just like the bed please. No dining room table is necessary.
Deluxe Room $189 (2 queen beds)
Club Floor $219 (2 queen beds)
Club Executive Suite $950 (King bed)
Rate Search # 2: AAA rate, if a member
Deluxe Room $180 (2 queen beds) This rate is 5% less than initial search.
Club Floor $197.10 (2 queen beds) This rate is 10% less than initial search.
Club Executive Suite $855 (King Bed). This rate is 10% less than initial search.
Rate Search # 3: AARP rate, if a member
Senior discounts vary by hotel and program. Some hotel chains require guest to be 62, but this rate is based on AARP membership. Persons 50 and older can join AARP.
Deluxe Room $159 (2 queen beds) . This rate is 16% less than initial rate of $189.
Hotel Special Offer Rates
Typically hidden in the special offer rates is the best value – if you have the time to search through all the offers for your hotel dates. Loyalty traveler took the time to analyze 10 special offer rates from The Nines for a Labor Day weekend hotel stay.
Click on the hotel name “The Nines” for the link to go to the hotel website.
This is where the potential guest can view special offer rates from The Nines. Click the link on the far right “Offers” to view webpage of special offer hotel rates.
The Nines has 10 different special rate offers on this page. That is 10 different rates which potentially could offer a better deal than the $189 shown in the initial Nines hotel rate search. Two of the special offers are Starwood Preferred Guest bonuses. The first offer is for 1,000 bonus points per Starwood Hotel stay. Sign up for this.
Rate Search #4: Third Night Free Special Offer Rate (This is the best deal Loyalty Traveler found)
Labor Day weekend rates: Friday, Sep 4; Saturday, Sep 5; Sunday, Sep 6.
Deluxe Room = $126 per night (33% savings over initial $189 rate)
Friday @$189 + Saturday @$189 + Sunday free = $378 for 3 nights.
Club Floor = $146 per night (33% savings over initial $189 rate)
Friday @$219 + Saturday @$219 + Sunday free = $438 for 3 nights.
Club Executive Suite = $1,900 for 3 nights = $634/night.
The unusual aspect of this 3rd night free offer is the rate used for 3rd night free is not inflated. Typically these offers use a nightly rate for the first two nights significantly higher than the lowest rate otherwise available. The Nines is offering a true 3rd night free offer since there are few discount rates for one or two night stays.
Yesterday’s analysis of 3rd free night rates at Hotel Ivy, Minneapolis, another Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel, was not the lowest rate for lower category rooms.
Remember: 3rd Night Free rates are fully prepaid and nonrefundable. This rate is a significant savings, but also has significant risk of losing your entire deposit if you do not complete the hotel stay.
Rate Search #5: 50% off 2nd night for a 2-night stay September 4-6.
Deluxe Room = $141.50 per night (25% savings over initial $189 rate).
Friday, Sep 4 $189 Saturday, Sep 5 $94 = $283 for 2-night stay
Club Floor Deluxe Room = $164 per night (25% savings over initial $219 rate)
Friday, Sep 4 $219; Saturday, Sep 5 $109 = $328 for 2-night stay
Loyalty traveler comment: I have stayed at the Nines with Club Floor privileges and the Club Lounge daily food and evening alcohol service is definitely worth the extra $22.50 per night.
Rate Search #5 – Live Life to the Nines Special Offer Rate includes two value-added amenities from the following list:
- Complimentary Valet Parking
- Breakfast for two in Urban Farmer or from In-Room Dining
- Welcome Amenity that includes chocolate dipped strawberries and your choice of a bottle of Champagne, Cabernet or Chardonnay
- Dinner and a Movie (one on-demand movie of your choice and a $25 In-Room Dining credit)
- 4:00pm Late Check-Out
- Complimentary Room Upgrade (based upon availability)
- 1,000 Starwood Preferred Guest® Starpoints
- Complimentary Morning Coffee Service
- Signature Gift from the Nines (choose one): Bracelet, Cuff Links or Bathrobe
The list includes some items that are one time and some items are daily. Since the rate being paid is higher on a daily basis, the guest should choose items with daily added value like complimentary parking and breakfast. I recall the Nines having the most luxurious towels of any hotel I stayed at this past year. I would definitely check out the bathrobe offer to determine if it is a nice quality robe.
$229 Deluxe Room (King Bed) for Friday Sep 4 on a one-night stay.
$309 Club Floor Deluxe King
Loyalty Traveler analysis of Live Life to the Nines Special Offer Rate:
The room rate is significantly higher than the 2 or 3 night special offers. This could be a good deal for a one-night stay. And the Deluxe King is available for Friday night.
Most of the value-added amenities are one time offers so this rate has the best value on a one night stay. There is diminishing value for this offer on consecutive night stays due to the much higher nightly room rate.
Club Lounge privileges come at a hefty $80 per night premium. There is only a $30 per night add-on fee for Club lounge privileges using Best Available Rate. This is a poor value special offer for the Club Lounge.
$229 Deluxe Room + Valet Parking ($25 value) + Breakfast for two in Urban Farmer ($30 value).
$229 rate + 1,000 Starpoints ($35 value) + bathrobe ($50 value?) could be a decent deal for the extra $50 cost over the AAA rate for a one-night stay.
Remember: Sign up for the SPG offer for 1,000 bonus points per stay. The $229 rate could earn 2,000 bonus points with these two 1,000 point offers + 458 base points for hotel rate = 2,458 points ($86 value).
Rate Search # 6: Over the Moon 40th anniversary of moon landing rate advertises a free space theme in-room movie , chocolates, and rates from $159.
$209 Deluxe room
$239 Club Floor Deluxe
The rates are much higher than $159 so this is a poor value for these dates.
Rate Search #7: Linger Longer with Complimentary Nights and Luxury Collection makes a UNICEF donation.
This rate is unavailable for Labor Day weekend.
Rate Search #8 – Better Tomorrows 50% off second night.
This special offer rate uses the same promotion code as Rate Search #5 and shows same rate.
Rate Search #9 – Taste of Luxury (rate code TASTE)
includes daily breakfast for two and deluxe room. For stays in October, November, and December a 4th night is free. Rates start at $299 and minimum 3-night stay required.
$339 per night Deluxe Room
$399 per night Club Floor Deluxe room
Rate Search #10 – Lavish in Love (rate code LUXROM)
Rate includes daily full breakfast room service, one bottle of champagne, and flowers.
$339 per night Deluxe Room
$399 per night Club Floor Deluxe room
This is a huge rate premium for breakfast and champagne. A poor value for Labor Day weekend.
Conclusion: Loyalty Traveler is waiting for a website which includes special offer rates. Until then, rate analysis is a plug and chug endeavor for the frequent guest seeking the best room rate value.