IHG ‘Best Price Guarantee’… is it a farce?Back to Forum
Anonymous6 Jul 2012
When booking on http://www.ichotelsgroup.com or any of their websites, there are many reminders of the “Best Price Guarantee” : if after booking, the same hotel is available on another website with a cheaper publicly available rate, IHG give you the first night free.
Having made a booking for a Holiday Inn (in UK), I was surprised to find the same hotel far cheaper on another website. This rate was available to the public, and in the same currency as that accepted by the hotel: Sterling,
This meets the advertised criteria and I applied to avail of the “Best Price Guarantee” and have my first night free.
And there the problems began……
Initially IHG claimed they could not meet the guarantee because I had not applied in time. But I had….they failed to respond to my emails. I offered to re-send my email which would show the initial sent date was within the criteria, but this was initially refused.
After a 50 minute international call (no toll free from Ireland), the upshot was a promise to call me back: they reluctantly agreed to accept my re-sent email confirmed that I had indeed applied in the allotted time.
I received no call, but did get an email the following day. Unsurprisingly, IHG had refused to honour the “Best Price Guarantee”.
I immediately responded, outlining that I was unhappy with the refusal to honour the guarantee, the dreadful service I endured (not least an unpleasant and expensive 50 minute call), several unanswered emails.
Equally unsurprisingly, IHG have thus far failed to respond to my communication.
Has IHG forgotten the basics of customer care?
Have others had similar experiences?
Pat6 Jul 2012
same thing happended to me. i booked a few rooms on IHG website and rate didnt include breakfast. later i saw the exact same rooms on expedia for cheaper price and even worse included breakfast for the price so not only was expedia rate cheaper but it also included breakfast. i emailed IHG and guess what, they told me – i didnt qualify because i didnt choose the IHG rate which included breakfast so i wasnt comparing like with like. what a joke because the IHG rate with breakfast was even more expensive. in any case i couldnt cancel because they were prepaid rooms but now i am in USA for 1 month and instead of staying at Intercon for 30 days am staying at the conrad. So for me the end result is that they lost a customer for good. i am happy i am not a shareholder.6 Jul 2012
Sorry to hear of this. I’m not surprised though.
I was an Intercontinental Six Continents Club member and an HI Inner Circle member from the outset (how many remember those two early Loyalty Clubs?). However, for a multitude of reasons, some similar to your sort of experience, I gave up on IHG (all brands) and now pretty much stay exclusively with Hilton (Diamond HHonors) and Starwood (Gold SPG).
The “rot” seemed to set in, looking back, when Bass bought out Holiday Corporation (I think it was called) and rebranded a bunch of Crest Hotels. Then we had Posthouses joining the fold. It seemed to me that the old (US style) HI standard went down the pan.
I remember when there were a clutch of US-standard, company built properties in the UK and Europe, with big rooms, pools, etc. Birmingham, Plymouth, Newcastle Airport, Dover, Cologne Airport, Leicester, Eindhoven, Brussels Airport etc. There was even an original Holidome-styled HI in Leiden (the first HI in Europe I think).
Also, there were some great CHIC (Commonwealth Holiday Inns of Canada) properties in the UK – a major franchisee that built generally US-spec properties in terms of room size etc. Plymouth was one of theirs, I recall. CHIC also built a lot of new HIs – Swindon, Swansea, Cardiff, Glasgow, Heathrow (a US spec property originally) and several in London. These all pretty much ended up going en bloc to become Marriotts at some point in the 1990s and I think still are.
Nostalgia’s not what it used to be.
Anyway, I’ve only stayed in one HI in the last 10 years, I think, as I became really disillusioned. And that was the Holiday Inn in Stratford upon Avon, which of course used to be a Hilton International property….. Plus ca change etc.
Cheers, Simon7 Jul 2012
I mentioned this in a another posting. Yes, I have brought this up no less than 8 times between 2006 and 2008. It appears they have a division just to find ways to get out of honoring the guarantee – its disgusting! I started using IHG hotels again recently hoping things have changed – apparently not, in fact its gone a lot worse! The practices of the management of IHG on this and many other issues are indeed questionable. Despite being a platinum member since inception, I now avoid the chain.7 Jul 2012
I well remember the SCC Simon. From memory it was a good loyalty programme and I’d stay mainly in Geneva and some African, Asian and M.E. properties.
Like all of you, I too became disillusioned with the brand and hardly ever stay in them anymore, except for the IC at JNB airport purely for the convenience. In fairness they always give me great service, rates and upgrades, but I book direct with them, not through the website.7 Jul 2012
I wondered I was the only one so affected. It now seems my initial thoughts were right…any excuse to avoid meeting the “Best Price Guarantee”.
Thanks all for your comments.
However bad IHG treats customers, there are countless good well run hotels under their brands who sadly tarnished by the actions of the parent.
Safe travels all,
Pat7 Jul 2012
Yes it’s a farce. To get the best service I feel it’s always best to stay in a boutique or family hotel where they might recognise you and look after you during your stay.8 Jul 2012
Other chains seem considerably more professional and genuine – Starwood and Hilton in particular always seem to honor their commitment. IHG on the other hand is a disgrace to the hospitality industry.8 Jul 2012
I’ve had 6 successful BRG claims.
Their criteria is tough, but I’ve found that once I’ve had a genuine match, it has been honoured..but I have always phoned the BRG line rather than emailed, so as I can press my case if necessary, and to ensure rates dont magically change between my email and their response.
1) Bear in mind that you ALWAYS have to book the cheapest option on the IHG website, for the particular room you want. If you want a 1-bedroom suite with breakfast, and there is a pre-paid rate and a flex rate, you must pick the pre-paid rate. If you want a plain double room no breakfast, you have to pick the cheapest rate for that room type.
2) Competing website must be in the same currency as the IHG booking. It is not enough that it QUOTES in the same currency, when you get thru the booking process, to the final payment stage, the amount being charged to your cc must be in the same currency, not a converted approximate.
3) Competing website must offer the same OR BETTER terms. If the room you have booked on IHG is pre-paid, and competing website is fully flexible, then you can compare it. If the IHG booking is fully flex and you can cancel up to say noon on the day of arrival, the competing websites must be at least as good…i.e. it is no good if the cancellation policy on the competing website is 11am on day of arrival.
If you have booked a double room on IHG pre-paid, and competing website is showing a 1-bed suite pre-paid for cheaper, you can BRG it.
4) You can only avail of the BRG if you have not availed of a previous BRG in the last 30 days (thats in ANY IHG property, not just the one you are trying to match now).
5) Competing rate must be publicly available and instantly bookable (no book now, and received a voucher to present to the hotel). Also using discount codes etc on booking websites is not allowed.
6) The IHG BRG is the most generous that there is, in that for successful claims, the first night is free. If your stay is for just one night, you can stay for nothing. It is therefore obvious that they have to set strict criteria.
Note if your BRG claim is denied, and the IHG booking was pre-paid, you are stuck with the pre-paid rate. Best to wait until the prepaid rates are gone (last couple of weeks before your intended journey), so that if your BRG is denied, you have the option to cancel the IHG booking.
I have to say I havn’t tried a BRG claim in a while, but the last couple of times that I did, I found it extremely hard to find a cheaper rate. Note that IHG are using this BRg to force hotels in their gropu to honour their committment to ensure that hotels do not fgive 3rd parties websites cheaper prices compared to what’s available on IHG own website. IHG corporate never lose out on BRG claims, it is the individual hotel that ends up having to paid for the BRG night.
Hope the above helps.
Check out my blog9 Jul 2012
As an agent this can be very confusing as there are several types of rate. Firstly there are the rates you see on the website of the hotel. Typically this is paid by the customer on check out – or possibly prepaid direct with the hotel. Now this is where the fun starts. As an agent I can (normally) offer these rates to you. In addition as an agent we may have our own negotiated rates with the hotel which are cheaper than there published room rates because of the volume we give (not every agent has this and we certainly don’t with every hotel group). Someone like Expedia being a volume agent (as supposed to a service agent) may have more of these rates – and you as a client still pay on check out for example.
Now after this you have bedbanks – which agents can also use (online or traditional) – who buy allocations or have access to rates as well and these can be much cheaper than the hotels own advertised rates – but they are not necessarily equivalent. This allocation of hotel rooms are typically returned to a hotel between 3 and 10 days of arrival date if unsold. Some have more restrictions though some have less. Very rarely do they have the same 4pm cancellation od day of check out for example. Another interesting point on these prepaid rates and this is crucial to those travelling on Business – is that these rates have no VAT element to them. So if you are a Business claiming back VAT you need to compare like for like. Some websites will get you the cheaper rates because there is no VAT attached to the rate (and you cannot Claim back).
So for example – if you see a rate of £190 + VAT on the IHG website and you see cheaphotelwebsite offering £194 for the same room with same inclusions you may not get any VAT back on the £194 if it is prepaid through a bedbank (and they may not tell you) – but you would on ther £190 + VAT rate. If it is £180 then you save but still no VAT back applicable.
Then there are then Corporate rates negotiated by companies. Unlikely to find these on a website without an access code but these can be cheaper again.
Finally you can call the hotel and they might give another rate depending on occupancy.
I hope that helps – it may answer some questions and may create a few more!9 Jul 2012
Thanks for that info, the insight was very interesting.
However from a potential stayers point of view trying to take advantage of the BRG,it’s mostly irrelevant. Competing rates must be publicly available and instantly bookable, with instant confirmation. How the website arrives at the rate isn’t of interest to the buyer.
Your insight may however explain why some IHG hotels sometimes struggle to ensure the price on the IHG website is always the cheapest one.
The most common way hotels get round it is to ensure that for flex rates, the cancellation period is more restrictive. Even 1 hour more restrictive makes any BRG invalid. For prepaid rates, a common rouse is to describe the room slightly differently. IHG might have a ‘”double” room, competing website might have a “standard” room
Some IHG hotels refuse to honour the BRG even when IHG corporate confirm it is a valid claim. Sounds like a weird thing to type, but I can confirm that it is true.
My BRG claim with the ic in Rome (€3000 a night penthouse suite), was accepted by IHG corporate, but they could not get the rate adjusted by the hotel, even after intervention. I was advised by IHG corporate that I may have to pay for the night, and that IHG corporate would reimburse me, including significant currency conversion fees as my cc is not a euro card. They also confirmed that they in turn would invoice the hotel in full, ensuring that the hotel actually ended up being out my currency conversion charge.so I would ultimately stay at no charge, and the hotel would pay my cc company fees.
As it turns out, I was unable to travel to rome, so I cancelled the hotel stay and thus don’t know how it would have all panned out.
Check on my blog charting my attempt to having a premium holiday at minimal costs, using frequent flyer programmes.9 Jul 2012