/ Travel & Leisure

Can you trust ‘best price guarantees’ on hotel sites?

When you’re booking with a major hotel chain, you want to make sure you get the best price. Many chains promise this with ‘best price guarantees’, but we’ve found these are often not worth the sites they’re written on.

I’d like to believe in guarantees. There’s a nice old-fashioned feeling about the word that suggests they’re part of a Victorian gentleman’s bond of honour and anything attached to them should be safe.

I get that feeling when I look at the big ‘best rate guaranteed’ badges on hotel websites. The guarantee is supposed to mean that the hotel will match any cheaper price found elsewhere.

I’m quite a lazy shopper (terrible admission for a Which? employee I know), so sometimes I’m likely to see that badge and think it’s not worth the effort to search elsewhere for something cheaper. After all, hotel chains wouldn’t put the promise on their websites if there were cheaper prices around would they?

Why promise if you can’t keep it?

Well from our Which? Travel’s investigation, it seems they would. We looked at 14 hotel chains that were offering ‘best price guarantees’ and found better prices for the same hotel on the same date for 12 of them.

However, when we went back to those 12 and asked them to put their guarantee in to practice, we were disappointed. Only two of the chains – Britannia and Jurys Inn – immediately offered to match the prices we had found.

Most of the chains told us that their guarantees only applied if we had booked a room with them first, at the higher price. Once we had paid for the room, we could then submit our evidence of the cheaper price and the chain would decide if it qualified for their price match guarantee.

And often the claims procedure was inconvenient in itself – involving online forms, pricey 0871 numbers, currency conversions and being told to wait up to three days for an answer. This wait could make the guarantee worthless – if the decision went against us we could have lost out on the cheaper option and paid more than we needed to.

I think that any hotel chain offering a price guarantee should match a cheaper price as soon as you tell them about it. After all, they can quickly check online to see if you’re telling the truth.

Until they start doing that, I’ll be ignoring these guarantees. They might as well put a badge on their website advising ‘shop around for the best price’.

Comments
Guest
Jo says:
2 March 2012

In January I booked a twin room at a discounted price at the Jurys Inn in Birmingham through an internet web site I’m not now sure whether it was Lastminute.com or Concerthotels but the price on the site was the price paid for the room and it was a very good room. The Hotel was very good as well and within easy walking distance of the NIA where we attended a show.

Guest

My partner and i have stayed at Premier Inn Greenock on numerous occasions.
We have yet to receive discounted charges there in spite of Lenny Henry’s enormous welcoming poster advert at entrance advertising rooms at only £29.00
Why are Premier allowed to advertise such blatantly non-available prices?

Guest

I have found this coming weekend (3rd & 4th March) that Premier Inn are charging two different prices for the same type of room in Coventry.The hotels are not far from each other in Coventry.

Guest
Michael says:
2 March 2012

I found a small B&B establishment near Porthmadoc, through Hotel.com or similar, and accepted their discount and booked.

Later I went to the hotels own web site were I found a much better discount.
I rang the hotel and asked for the discount and was told if I cancelled the .com booking they would be very please to offer me the discount, which I did and I found the establishment excellent.

Good service, good meals, good accm – I found they had a small room, not offered by doc.com which was even cheaper

I won all round and THEY had a very satisfied customer who tells his friends about it.

M

Guest
oldgit71 says:
2 March 2012

As with one of your respondents already, I’m fed up with miselading promotions. I am a fan of Premier Inn – they give good consistent relaible value but…….
1 – They advertise £29 a night – Book now!….and these hotels are in Inverness or Outer Mongolia and not where I want to stay
2 – I book well in advance (they’re popular) and they come along afterwards (much later and very near the date) saying ‘Book now and get such and such a discount’ when obviously very few places are left to secure. It’s an offer that has very little substance – Disingenuous, at the least.

Guest
Jacki Hughes says:
2 March 2012

Last weekend I stayed in York at Lady Anne Middleton’s hotel at very short notice, maybe 2 days. I had found the hotel on a late booking site, not sure which, probably late rooms.com. I rang the hotel direct and asked if I could have the same price as shown on the late rooms site if I booked direct with them and they said yes! We needed to stay an extra night and they were also very fair about the price of that too, I can’t recommend them highly enough

Guest
David Kent says:
2 March 2012

A similar problem to this arises out of advertised hotel room upgrades, ‘..when available..’, which seem never to be available even in hotels which are obviously not fully booked.

Guest

I have tried on several occasions over the past 2-3 years to find a Premier Hotel that can match Lenny Henrys promise in the areas or time that I would need one and so far Premier have FAILED both on the area and the time. OK they can help a little if your trip is between the middle of January to February and you do not mind diverting 25-40 miles or so, but otherwise utterly misleading.

Guest
Paul Hargreaves says:
2 March 2012

It’s the same with Travelodge. £10 SALE, try to book and it’s £19 for the first date and £29 on the return journey. (Going to France from Dover). But that’s not all, the following week it’s now a £19 SALE, tried to book for some friend’s and it’s now £29 and £45 it’s all just a con.