Finding cheap hotels in Japan during the cherry blossom season has turned out to be quit challenging. Certainly in popular cities like Kyoto hotels that I usually find for prices around 150€ are now priced at double that amount. I do off course compare prices on multiple booking sites and then sometimes I find things that turn out in my favor. Here’s how I earned a 100$ travelcard from Best Western yesterday. I will explain it so you can do it too.
You may know that I always prefer to book directly at the hotel’s website. I do so as this allows me to collect points towards free nights but also because I prefer to know what type of room I book. I prefer to see the picture’s and read the description at the hotel’s website. Last but not least hotel chains offer discounts to members of their rewards programs and also offer a best rate guarantee. The latter means that if you find the same room at another website for a lower price they will offer this room to you at that price and will throw in some extra compensation. The extra compensation you get varies by hotel chain. Here’s what some popular chains offer:
- Marriott : You get an additional 25% off the lower rate that you have found
- Hilton : You get an additional 25% off the lower rate that you have found
- Accor : You get an additional 10% off the lower rate that you have found
- IHG : Your first night free for hotels in most of Europe or 5 x times the points for your stay! (up to a maximum of 40,000 points).*
- Best Western : You get a $100 travelcard to spend on a next stay
*IHG changed their conditions starting this year. Before you used to get the first night free worldwide.
This is what’s in it for you. Now let me explain how to get this benefit.
You don’t have to do the price comparison all by yourself. Lot’s of price comparison sites will help you with that:
- Skyscanner : I often find lower rates by using skyscanner. This particular case for the Best Western in Tokyo was again found through this site.
- Trivago : Another good comparison site.
- Google Maps : Type ‘hotels in Kyoto’ in google search and you will see a map with hotels in between the given search results. If you click on this map it will open in a full screen and you will be able to add dates for your search. Google gets it’s prices from comparing some popular booking sites. I do find lower prices with Google Maps once in a while but not as often as with Trivago or Skyscanner.
Both Skyscanner and Trivago allow you to filter your search results on specific chains in the left hand column. In trivago you have to select ‘extra filters’ first. In Skyscanner the filter on hotel chains is the very last item so you have to scroll all the way down.
The comparison sites don’t always include the price that can be found on the hotel’s website. If they do, like this case of Best Western, you can easily spot them:
If they don’t you will have to look up the hotel separately on the hotel’s website. You see that the hotel in Osaka I found yesterday is only 2 pound cheaper on the comparison site but this is sufficient to make a “best rate guarantee” claim and get a $100 travelcard.
Once you’ve found a lower rate on another website this is what you do.
1. Make sure that the rate is still available at the comparison site.
To do that you open the comparison site and continue with your booking until the payment page. This way you can see the total price for your booking including any extras (like taxes or charges for extra persons). Make sure to compare prices in the same currencies, preferably the hotel country’s currency, as sometimes the exchange rates can give small price differences.
2. Become a member of the loyalty program
Once you know for sure that the lower price can be booked on the price comparison site your next step is to become a member of the hotel chain’s loyalty program if you’re not already. This is completely free.
3. Book the hotel
Then you must go ahead and make a booking on the hotel’s website. If you will only be staying in the hotel if your “best rate guarantee” is accepted I would advise to book a flexible rate as sometimes claims are not accepted due to some small print.
4. Submit your claim
Once you’ve done that you can submit your claim. In your claim you will have to mention your booking number and all the information regarding the lower price you’ve found on the other booking site. I would advice to include the direct link to the page that showcases the lower rate in the hotel country’s currency.
That’s all! Now you just have to wait for the response you will get regarding your claim. This should come in 24 hours but sometimes it takes them longer to get back to you. (I often take a screenshot as proof of the lower rate I found.) Once your claim is accepted you will see that your rate is adjusted in the system. In case of Best Western I will receive my travel card a few days after I’ve completed my stay.
Here some small print that can result in denied claims:
- Your claim must be submitted within 24 hours of your original booking
- The comparison website must be a site that gives you a direct confirmation of your booking (not show the rate as “on request”)
- The rooms you’re comparing must be identical room types with identical products. (eg. breakfast included)
Below you can find the links to the full details of the best rate guarantee programs offered by the hotel chains:
This is how you can easily save some money on your hotel expenditures. Here you will find even more travel hacks.
Which hotel would you book with your Best Western travelcard? Share it in the comments…
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