InterContinental has a Best Rate Guarantee policy that if you find a hotel cheaper on a different site, you get a free night on that stay (even if the stay is one night). A while ago I wrote 5 Best Rate Guarantees with a Free Room and in it I essentially said that IHG was too strict when it came to approving claims. However, it was pointed out that things have changed and many people are having success at finding a booking free nights with IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee. Recently, I tried again and had some success. Twice. And it took 5 minutes to get a free night at an InterContinental Hotel!
Kayak has made it easier than ever to find cheaper rates. There are different kinds of functions on Kayak that will ensure your success in finding a BRG and I’m going to give away some of those secrets here.
As I said before, IHG can be notorious sticklers for matching up the exact room. As they should be, since some of their hotels are worth a pretty penny. And obviously if one rate includes breakfast and one doesn’t you’re comparing apples to oranges and missing the point of the BRG. You need to have the exact same room, including bed type, cancelation policy, etc… People get denied for all kinds of things, including denials for the lower rate having breakfast included. Also note, “the room price and the total room cost on the non-IHG website must be available in the currency of the hotel.” But we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Simply put you need to do this:
- Find a cheaper rate on a non IHG site.
- Book a room on IHG (I always book cancelable rates).
- Then submit a claim, via the online form or phone, giving your confirmation and the site where the cheaper rate can be found.
- If they find the cheaper rate on another site in 24 hours, you should get an email saying that your night (or a night) is free.
So how do I find the rooms? And how has Kayak made this search easy?
1) Incase you’re unfamiliar, Kayak will search all kinds of websites and show you the lowest rates across various websites, including IHG. This makes it easy to compare IHG.com, Intercontinental.com, HolidayInn.com or whatever the hotel is to the other sites easily, as you’ll have the hotel’s home page price listed among the other travel sites and their prices
So in this above picture, I can see that the hotel on IHG (Intercontinental) is more expensive than Kayak or Getaroom.
2) But Kayak makes this an even easier search by adding a search bar on the side called “Hotel Name” but you can also type in and search a hotel brand or chain.
Now I can simply type in “InterContinental” and select “all InterContinental brands” and see all the hotels with this free night policy (same can be done with Choice hotels or any brand really). Same thing with the other brands like Hilton and Choice. I can just view the hotels under the IHG brand, thus making my search for a free night using the IHG BRG that much easier.
3) Remember it must be in the currency of the hotel. This is made very easy by changing your country in the top right. Now I can use Kayak Italy to search hotel sites that are good for finding Italian hotels. It should find sites that show the hotel in the local currency… the downside is that it will show in the local language. Look to see if the site can change languages but if not, Google (at least Google Chrome) can translate for you.
A little trick, especially for hotels in Europe, is to change to different countries with the same currency. If you’re determined to find a BRG for a certain hotel or city, the German Kayak might find other sites and options that also pull up prices in Euros. But in general if I don’t see a lower option the first time I move on. However, I’ve got the process down pretty quick and can check at different points in time leading up to my trip. My last BRG was for an InterContinental I actually checked on last week… but this week Kayak showed some lower rates leading to a free night.
A little warning: Just because it shows a lower price on this first page of Kayak results, doesn’t actually mean that the website named will show the claimed price. So click all the way through, see if you can actually check out with the price you’re about to claim you saw. Plus, you need to match up the room time anyways. But perhaps there are a few other warnings for BRG newbies:
- By the time they check your claim submitted online, the price could have changed. So if it’s a real great deal and you’re excited about it, call and get it confirmed now. I prefer not to waste my time on hold though and this reinforces the need for cancelable rates.
- There is a 24 hour limit. So it has to be booked and approved in 24 hours or it doesn’t matter.
- This is a fickle process. There are different people and people make mistakes. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I’ve even canceled to rebook, simply so I can try again but reset the 24 hours I have to make the claim.
In the end if it doesn’t go the way you planned and you don’t get a free night, just cancel-you’re not out anything.
The thing about “stays”…
“Once a valid claim has been made and approved by IHG for a specific date, no further claims by the same person will be accepted for the same date. If members of the same household make claims for consecutive nights at the same IHG hotel or at different IHG hotels within fifty (50) miles of each other, only the Best Price Guarantee claim for the first night will be honored.”
They seem to have a thing about “consecutive nights” and households. They obviously keep track of that via your address listed on your Priority Club profile (assuming they keep track at all). But other than the consecutive night issue I believe you could book the same hotel at different dates. The wording also seems that two members of the same “household” could get two rooms on the same night. For us, we’d rather have two different nights. There are obviously ways around this, but the easiest is to sleep somewhere else for a night.
Why? Why would they give away a free night?
My initial thought is that it’s just overly generous but I do see the benefits. It’s two-fold. To some degree they want to encourage people to book on their own website so they don’t have to pay out to third parties. But also, I imagine that the hotel really does want to know if a third party is selling their rooms at a cheaper price. The screen shot of the IC Rome above is an extreme example where a third part is selling their rooms for over 100 Euros less than IHG. But even a $10 difference can add up. So by you finding these differences on other sites, they could potentially change the prices on those sites and save some serious money. If you get a $200 hotel free but save them from unknowingly losing $10 a room on Expedia, they probably come out ahead.
What do you think? Is it overly generous? Especially considering none of the other major competitors give away free nights (except for Choice which is a budget hotel chain)? Is this something too good to last? For a while it just seemed like they counted on their agents denying people, a win-win for them. Anyways, these are some of the ways I find BRGs with IHG and I hope you find them useful.