Posted by Ric Garrido

San Francisco seems like a good place to hang out for St. Patrick’s Day. There are quite a number of Irish pubs in the City.

Tuesday night hotel rates in San Francisco can be astronomical at any time of year.  Find yourself in town on a convention night and the upper upscale hotel room is going for $350+ per night. Hit a quiet weekend night or holiday and rates can plummet to $90 for a four star and $120 for a five star hotel and all its associated loyalty program benefits.

Starwood Hotel Rates

San Francisco,

Tuesday night March 17, 2009 (St. Patrick’s Day)

Westin St. Francis

$249

St. Regis San Francisco

$399

W San Francisco

$299

Westin Market Street

$189

Palace Hotel

$249

Le Meridien

$259

Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf

$139

 

Fisherman’s Wharf is the best rate, but a Union Square/Market Street hotel is going to be more conducive to a pub crawl.

San Francisco has a 14% hotel room tax and at $189 for Westin Market, the one night hotel rate is going to cash out at $216 for a night. I want a better priced option than that.

Kayak.com Comparison for Hotel Rates

A quick survey of Kayak.com rates showed discrepancies between Westin Market Street displayed for $129 at Hotels.com and The Palace Hotel at $119 at HotelClub.net.

I tested the Palace Hotel with HotelClub.net and the system kicked me out near the end of the booking process. When I restarted my search the room rate for the Palace Hotel increased to $249. I also tried other sites still showing a $119 rate for the Palace Hotel and all searches resulted in a rate change with the third party online travel agency to the rate shown on Starwood Hotels sites.

I tried the Westin Market Street through Hotels.com and the rate actually came up even lower at $109 for a Traditional room and the rate was bookable. Even better, an added value certificate for $50 on a future two night Hotels.com booking would accompany the $109 room rate.

I rechecked the Starwood site and the lowest priced room for the Westin Market Street was $169 and called a Grand Deluxe. The Starwood Hotels internet rate had dropped $20 on the room between 6:11pm and 6:53pm.

The Palace Hotel had also dropped in price during the hour, from $249 to $211.

I filed a Best Rate Guarantee claim for the Westin Market Street citing the $109 rate at 6:57pm, March 12, 2009.

 

westin-market-street-hotel-san-francisco

Westin Market Street Hotel, San Francisco

The Day After

I checked my email this morning and there was nothing from Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee.

I checked SPG.com for St. Patrick’s Day hotel rates in San Francisco. The Westin Market Street was still listed at $169 for a Grand Deluxe room at 8:00am, March 13.

I saw another opportunity for a BRG claim at the Le Meridien San Francisco for this weekend at $119 on Hotels.com compared to $139 at Starwood Hotels sites.

I checked a few times today looking for the Starwood BRG email, but nothing came.

5:40pm March 13, 2009; Starwood Hotels response came 22 hours, 43 minutes after filing my BRG claim for the San Francisco Westin Market Street. My claim was approved. The Starwood rate is $233.75 and if I book a room at that rate within 24 hours, then my rate will be adjusted to $109 and I will also receive 2,000 Starpoints (a $70 value) for a successful BRG claim.

The $233.75 rate puzzled me so I went to SPG.com and searched rates.  The Westin Market Street rate was displayed as $289. When I selected the hotel rate , the rate dropped to $159 for a Premier room. Premier is a higher category room for $30 less than last night’s initial search showing a Grand Deluxe San Francisco hotel room on the Starwood sites for $189.

The fundamental question I considered these past 24 hours was whether a hotel chain, not Starwood per se, but in general,  ‘Could a hotel skirt the best rate guarantee by just altering inventory to move cheap rooms through third party sites?’ 

A hotel chain could maintain higher category rooms at higher prices on its own sites at times for the guest who doesn’t search around to get better rates or from loyal customers who may not go elsewhere to compare rates.  Best rate guarantees that do go through could technically be voided because the room types are not the same when a lower category room is on a third party site and that room is not bookable online at the hotel chain’s own site.

The point was moot anyhow since Starwood Hotels honored my Best Rate Guarantee claim for $109, a rate $60 less than the $169 Starwood rate for the Westin Market Street, San Francisco, despite the room types being different between the Starwood Hotels and Hotels.com sites.

Hotels.com showed the rate at $229 for March 17, 2009 when I checked just after I received the email of my successful Best Rate Guarantee claim.

5 Responses

  1. Wow – thanks for the posting! I’d never paid attention to the BRG. I checked on Hotels.com last night and found cheaper rates at the Sheraton SFO for two dates (~$149 vs. $179 and $169 at SPG.com). I submitted both, and both were approved! It’s not saving that much (work is paying for it anyway), but over the next two weeks, I’ll get an extra 2000 bonus points x 2 (plus the 500+500 bonus points from their Night After Night promotion).

    I see Marriott has something like this too – but there you don’t get bonus points, just the lower rate. How about the other chains?

  2. Starwood gives the option of 10% off lower rate or 2,000 points.

    Marriott gives a 25% reduction of competing lower rate.

    Hyatt – 20% reduction of lower rate.

    Hilton – $50 gift certificate and lower rate.

    IHG 10% off lower rate.

    Loyalty Traveler post on BRG policies:
    http://boardingarea.com/loyaltytraveler/2008/10/30/hotel-best-rate-guarantee-claims/

  3. Must one stay in the room to get the 2K, or can I file the claim & grab my 2K *points without staying there?

  4. The 2,000 points are awarded after the stay. You have to complete the paid stay at the hotel for the BRG claim points to be awarded.

  5. I did not have such a pleasant experience with Starwood’s Best Rate Guarantee program. I felt insulted and cheated because I booked with on Starwood’s site on the basis of BRG even though Hotel.com’s rate was 10% lower. They denied the claim because by the time they researched the site, the rate was gone or so they claimed. The truth is that I saw it, it was within the 24 hours when I booked it and they made it sound like I was trying to be sneaky. My recommendation is to stay away from Starwood’s gimmicky BRG program. It is fool of loophooles and caveats, it is a real shame that a company that strives to be so cool and customer friendly would hassle customers in this way. Book with the 3rd party of your choice or the other hotel chains.

    Comment by Jenny Lopez on July 13th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

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