Hilton Enlists “Up in the Air” Star and Makes Big Improvement to Best Rate Guarantee

Hotel chain Best Price Guarantees are for the most part Best Price Gimmicks, there are so many holes and exclusions that it serves to say that the chain has the best price without having to have the best price.

However you don’t earn points, stay credits, and you’re not supposed to receive elite recognition if you don’t “book direct.”

It’s less expensive to a chain when customers book on the chain’s website than when they pay commissions to an online travel agency. It’s even less expensive for hotel owners, even when factoring the cost of buying points for guests. So there’s been a big book direct push from all the major chains, with discounts that are at best equal to and frequently less than the discount given to AAA members.

Hilton has improved their best rate guarantee. They’ve renamed it Price Match Guarantee and you no longer have to make a booking with them before asking to see if they will match a lower rate.

  • I hated the idea of booking a prepaid reservation and then hoping I wouldn’t be arbitrarily denied. (Say Hotels.com comes with an hour difference in check-out time, or myriad online booking sites that get denied for any reason or no reason.)

  • While I’m sure that the price match won’t be as useful as we’d probably like, it becomes risk free since you can ask for the match before the booking. Plus they’re now accepting claims fro same day check-in, and if you have a successful claim you will receive 25% off the rate for each day of your stay.

The ability to get a price match approved in advance before booking and even do this immediately over the phone puts Hilton ahead of rivals with making it possible to actually use their direct booking promise. Until chains like Marriott and Hyatt match they will only be offering gimmicks.

To go along with these changes Hilton launched a new campaign to convince customers to book with them. Their research suggests people are skeptical and don’t think there’s a difference. And they’re attempting to communicate what they see as that difference in clear language and with a really compelling spokesperson.

George Clooney was loyal to Hilton in Up in the Air and really underscored the benefits of the Honors program.

Hilton has now enlisted Clooney’s co-star Anna Kendrick to do the convincing going forward.

Hilton deploys their loyalty program as a tool to convince customers to book direct, which is why I was so surprised when Hilton gutted points-earning for non-elite members this year.

In my experience a non-elite likely does do better with, say, Hotels.com’s effective 10% rebate versus a 2% discount from Hilton and a 4% rebate for a non-elite Honors member.

Still, these are great changes to their Price Match Guarantee. Will Anna Kendrick convince you to book direct?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary,
    “…versus a 2% discount from Hilton and a 4% rebate for a non-elite Honors member.”

    do you mean “elite” Honors member for the 4% rebate as opposed to “non-elite?”

  2. @Gary – maybe it’s a subject for another post or perhaps something you’ve already covered but i’m puzzled by how a non-status member can get better return from the same points, and double at that.

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