Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee: Stud or Dud?

When it comes to hotel best rate guarantees, I’m usually pretty skeptical. Hotels always seem to find some loophole or make it prohibitively difficult to avoid honoring it. In the end, they’re usually nothing more than a good marketing tool.

Typically, I’ve avoided using guarantees for those reasons. If the price is close, I’ll book through the hotel’s site. This still allows me to enjoy elite benefits and earn points. If it’s significant though, I’ll avoid the risk and just book with the third party site. It’s usually not worth betting a hundred bucks that a hotel chain will honor my claim. For that much, I’ll get my breakfast elsewhere.

Recently though, I came across an opportunity for a planned Hyatt stay where I figured I’d give it a try. Given Hyatt’s reputation for customer service, I figured they’d be the best chain to give this a spin.

Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee

As soon as you land on Hyatt’s homepage, you’ll see a section claiming why you should book on their site. The first reason listed is their Best Rate Guarantee. Hyatt’s website even has a page dedicated to their best rate guarantee. The page states (emphasis mine):

You’ve come to the right place. When you book direct on hyatt.com, you know you’re getting the best rates at any Hyatt hotel or resort worldwide. We guarantee it. If you find on another site, a lower, publicly available, and immediately bookable room-only rate for the same stay, we’ll not only match it but we’ll give you an additional 20% off or 5,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points.

That’s right – if you find a lower rate, Hyatt will match the rate AND give you an additional 20% off or 5,000 points. Depending on the price, that can be some serious savings. On cheaper rates, 5,000 points is a great gesture. That’s enough points for a free night at a Category 1 property!

The Opportunity

As fate would have it, this past week, I was booking a hotel in Korea and came across the Grand Hyatt Seoul. For the standard room with a king bed, Hyatt’s website advertised a member’s rate of $144 per night. After taxes and fees, the total rate for our two night stay came out to $348.38.

The original booking confirmation. Note the timestamp

Right before completing the booking process, Hyatt’s site states, “When you book direct on hyatt.com, you’re getting our best rate guaranteed.” Great, I figured. If they’re advertising it here and on the site’s homepage, maybe they really will honor it. I just have to find a lower rate.

Enter Nustay

After searching across several site and coming up empty, I came across Nustay.com. After going through the booking process, I was able to get a lower rate.

Nustay displays their rates a little differently than Hyatt. That’s fine. It just requires a little basic math and attention to detail to get to the nightly rate. Still, it’s not like I was doing anything earth-shattering here.

Andddd one minute later. $338<$348, right?

On Nustay’s site, instead of displaying the nightly rate first, they show the total rate including taxes and fees. I actually prefer this kind of transparency, as that’s the real number I care about.

The two-night total including taxes and fees was $338.24. Right below the total price, it displayed the amount of taxes and fees included – $60.48. Here comes the math:

  • Back out $60.48 from $338.24 to get a room rate of $277.76 for two nights.
  • Divide $277.76 by 2 to get the nightly rate of $138.88.
  • $138.88 < $144

See, no voodoo. No massaging of the numbers. Just basic math to get the nightly rate. This should be a pretty open and shut case.

Submitting a Claim

The claim submission process is pretty easy. To start out, you’ll just head on over to this link on Hyatt’s site. You should be directed to a page like this:

If you’re already signed into your World of Hyatt account, your information will be pre-populated. If not, you’ll need to enter your own details. After that, you’ll enter the booking information for your reservation. Finally, you’ll enter the details of the better rate you’ve found, along with a link and a screenshot. Unfortunately, Hyatt only allows one screenshot, so make sure it’s of the competitor’s rate.

The entire process took less than five minutes. I probably spent more time verifying prices than filling out the form. Hyatt says they’ll, “review your claim and respond with a status update within 24 hours”. Great. No waiting around.

Hyatt’s Response

Sure enough, I received a response later that evening. Kudos to Hyatt for responding the same day. It just wasn’t exactly the response I was expecting.

Dear Stephen Hoechst,

 

Thank you for your interest in our Best Rate Guarantee program. After researching the rate details you have provided, nustay does not display the Grand Hyatt Seoul being available on their site for your travel dates.

 

The reservation you have already made is still confirmed at the original rate. Should you like to make any changes or cancellations to a Hyatt-made reservations, please contact our Global Contact Center at 800.323.7249/402.592.6465.

 

Or, if you would like to view a list of contact numbers available in other countries please visit: http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/customer-service/numbers.jsp

 

Warmest regards,

(Best Rate Specialist)

Right after receiving this email, I checked Nustay’s website. Sure enough, the rates were still there. Let’s give the service rep the benefit of the doubt here and say that the link wasn’t working. Even in that case, I submitted a timestamped screenshot of Nustay’s better rate. There was absolutely no mention of the screenshot. Just a quick denial. What’s the point of submitting a screenshot if they’re just going to ignore it?

I wasn’t giving up without a fight though.

My Second Attempt

I was already out for the evening, so I figured I’d resubmit the claim in the morning. It was still within Hyatt’s 24-hour window, so I figured it wouldn’t be an issue.

Yeah, I know. I need to charge my laptop.

The next morning after making a cup of coffee, I fired up the computer and checked Nustay. Even though I had multiple screenshots from before, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something. Sure enough, the rate was still there. Actually, it was a few bucks cheaper this time.

This time, I included a detailed message in the comments section. I outlined my previous submission and walked the agent through the math to get to the lower rate. Surely, there’s no way they could deny me this time.

Hyatt’s Second Response

I figured with a Saturday submission, I wouldn’t hear anything until after the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hyatt responded in less than two hours! Seriously, props to Hyatt for their quick response times on these claims. What I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by was their response.

Dear Stephen Hoechst,

 

Thank you for your interest in our Best Rate Guarantee program. After researching the rate details you have provided, I have found that the Hyatt.com rate you have booked is lower than what is being offered on the website you have indicated. As a result, your claim cannot be validated.

 

The above booking is still confirmed at the original rates held. Should you like to make any changes or cancellations to a Hyatt-made reservation, please contact our Global Contact Center at 800.323.7249/402.592.6465.

 

Or, if you would like to view a list of contact numbers available in other countries please visit: https://about.hyatt.com/en/contact.html.

 

Best regards,

(Best Rate Specialist)

Uhhhh wut? I’d literally checked the rate less than two hours earlier and had no issue pulling it up. I went to Nustay’s site again. Sure enough, the rate was still there.

Enough Games…Time for a Phone Call

Enough of this back and forth. Clearly, this isn’t getting solved by submitting an online form. It was time to talk to an actual person.

I gave the number included in the email a call. After a quick transfer, I was on the phone with a member of the Rate Guarantee Team. She was an absolute pleasure to talk to. I gave her a quick synopsis of what I’d gone through so far. I explained that I couldn’t understand the disconnect. I was still looking at the Nustay rate while we were talking, but for some reason, Hyatt’s agent’s were unable to see it. The screenshots included in my previous submissions had seemingly gone ignored too.

She apologized and asked me to send a direct email including screenshots of my original rate and the rate from Nustay. Easy enough. I’d basically gathered a photo album of hotel rates at this point. I typed up a brief email summarizing our conversation and walking her through the same math used earlier. I attached the screenshots attached and sent it off.

Success?

Less than an hour later, I received a notification from Hyatt saying that there had been a change to my itinerary. After doing some quick currency conversions, the updated itinerary showed the reduced rate!

Next, I headed over to my World of Hyatt account and sure enough, there were 5,000 additional points for a “Reward bonus” Success! Or so I thought.

About 30 minutes after that, I received a reply from the same member of the Rate Guarantee Team.

Dear Stephen Hoechst,

 

Thank you for contacting Hyatt Hotels; I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

 

Thank you for your screenshots. I have searched the website and have been unsuccessful in location the information to compare. However, I will honor the rate of $137.67 as a courtesy. Unfortunately, this does not come with the reward of the 20% off or the 5,000 bonus points.

 

Also as a good will gesture for your kindness and patience I have added an extra 5,000 points to your account.

 

We look forward to your future stays at Hyatt.

 

Best regards,

Guest Care Support

So let me get this straight – you’re basically saying I’m wrong, but since I bugged you enough, here are some points. That just seemed wrong. In the end, I got the outcome I wanted, but I can’t help but feel bad.

Any way you look at it, the rate on Nustay was lower than Hyatt. The rate was lower with taxes and it was lower without it. I must have had ten different timestamped photos from at least five different times.

Final Thoughts

I thought this would be a fun exercise with little downside. The rate on Hyatt’s site was only $10 more a night, so it wouldn’t cost much to test out their best rate guarantee. In the end, I saved $20 and received 5,000 points for my trouble. That said, I can’t help but feel left with a bad taste from this experience.

This seemed like it should have been a pretty straightforward, open-and-shut case from the beginning. Unfortunately, Hyatt made this unnecessarily difficult at every step. To make things worse, it felt like no one was listening. I always hear about Hyatt’s great customer service, but this felt like a letdown.

Ultimately, I got the outcome I was hoping for, but in a way that was pretty off-putting. Am I crazy for leaving this experience with a bad taste?

What has your experience been with best rate guarantees?

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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2 Comments

    • It’s disappointing, but at least we know what to expect ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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