|by Jason Steele|
One of the more advanced tricks in my travel arsenal is the Best Rate Guarantee that some online travel agencies offer. I first found out about these offer through the invaluable Best Rate Guarantee blog. The idea is pretty simple. The online travel agency will meet a competitor’s price and give you a coupon for future lodging. The great thing about the Best Rate Guarantee blog is that they have found a way to figure out where lodging is offered at a better price than the major companies such as Expedia and Travelocity.
I have done this many times, but only on Expedia. Once I have found a place to stay that is eligible for the best rate guarantee, I book the room and immediately contact Expedia. The process takes about 30 minutes, so don’t bother calling unless you know you have some time on your hands. Generally, you have to repeat your itinerary number a couple times, and then slowly spell out the name of the website that the better room rate appears under. If there is even the slightest difference in how the rooms are described, then they might claim the room is not eligible, even if it is clearly the same room. You can persist, or you can just hang up and call back.
If the guarantee is granted, you are then placed on hold for a while why they confirm it. They will read from their script all sorts of things, and they seem trained to repeat back everything you tell them. Finally, your patience will be reward by both a refund of the difference, and an online coupon good for $50 off any hotel reservation.
Using The Coupons
On Expedia, using the coupons is very easy. They appear when you make a reservation, and you just have to click on them to use them. You can use only one coupon per reservation, so the $50 is spread out if you are booking multiple days. If the room is less than $50, it is free. If you have multiple coupons, you can get around this by booking multiple single day reservations at the same place, using a single coupon for each day. The hotel will see this, and you won’t have to check out and check in every day. The worst problem I ever had was when they had to reprogram my key card each day, a minor inconvenience considering the money saved, $50 per day.
What The Hotels Think
The best part is that the coupons are coming from Expedia, the hotel has no idea of what you are really paying. This is important, as it is nice to know that you are not cheating your favorite bed and breakfast out of a reasonable room rate.
Is It Worth It?
For me, it is. I can spend the 30 minutes on hold in order to save $50. While my time is definitely worth $100, I am actually able to continue to work on my computer while I am on hold, so it really isn’t that bad. The first one is the most challenging, but once you have the routine down, it is as easy as pie.
When paying out of pocket, I really don’t have very fancy tastes in hotels. Most of my vacations are not centered around hanging out in a hotel, so it is really just a place to sleep and store my stuff. It is very easy for me to book clean hotels and motels in most suburbs and small towns for under $100. If I have best rate guarantee coupon, I often pay less than $20 a night for a hotel.
For this traveler, the deal is definitely worth it.