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What is wrong with your best rate guarantee and how to fix it

Even as hotels around the globe are adopting cool technology to enhance the guest experience, your hotel is most likely using a tired and antiquated tool meant to persuade guests to book directly.

Created as a way to compete during the early days of online travel agencies, the best rate guarantee (BRG) was meant as a hotel’s solid reassurance to travelers that their prices were the lowest throughout the internet.

The idea itself was brilliant, yet straightforward. If a guest found a cheaper rate on an OTA, the hotel would match that rate and sometimes sweeten the deal with an additional incentive such as complimentary breakfast, parking, or in some cases, a free night’s stay.

Since the cost of these incentives or discounts were much less than the commissions paid to the OTA, hoteliers wrote them off as a justifiable expense.

BRGs get hacked…

Over the years, it became apparent that hoteliers weren’t the only group to find major opportunity with Best Rate Guarantees. Hotel “promo hackers” soon started cataloging and rampantly sharing hotel chains’ Best Rate Guarantees to take advantage of free nights and free perks.

Not to be abused, hoteliers then responded by tightening the restrictions on their best rate guarantees by implementing more rules and limitations.

The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of hotel shoppers ignore your BRG by shopping your rates regardless, and they certainly don’t want to invest the time to take advantage of it. Modern travelers want to find the lower price immediately, not hours later.

As further evidence on how outdated BRGs have become:

An entire decade ago, Cornell researched low price guarantees and came to the conclusion that BRGs “have little value to the consumer.” It also argued that a new model was necessary so that guests will be driven to make a reservation without the need to search for a lower price elsewhere. Again, they said this a DECADE ago!

The best rate guarantee remains a noble concept. It’s the implementation that renders them impotent. Under the current format, customers are required to search for cheaper rates elsewhere, submit a lengthy email form, then wait around for a response. Is that any way to guarantee great rates to our guests?

The solution

There’s really only one way to regain all the benefits of a lucrative Best Rate Guarantee program.1 It must be built-in and automated by your hotel booking engine itself, where current 3rd party rates are displayed alongside your own rate. The best hotel booking engines prevent customers from leaving the booking engine to go look elsewhere for better rates. If prices are out of parity, the booking engine will automatically match your rate to the lower 3rd party rate.

Now that’s a best rate guarantee that makes everyone happy.


Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is managing editor at Multimedia Publishing.

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