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When a rate is not a rate

Nova Scotia
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When a rate is not a rate

Tried to book a room at the Manchester Four Points by Sheraton for the summer. Saw a senior rate for $81.75. Called the hotel directly and asked for reservations. Was passed to reservations where I was told the lowest rate was $99. I argued the rate was featured on the website for $81. No dice. Called the hotel manager and spoke with him.

He tells me unless you specify "in house reservations' you will be passed to the central 1-800 line located somewhere in the U..S He told me to call the hotel directly and ask for in house reservations. I did this. Spoke with a clerk and explained the rate I was staring at on my computer. He told me the lowest rate he could offer me was $109!!

I know you are probably thinking, why didn't she just book the rate off the website? Because my credit card would be charged the full amount and we are not travelling until July. I just wanted to guarantee the room.

Insider tip from the manager was always to ask if there is a better rate when a rate is quoted. Interestingly enough when I tried it at his own hotel, there was nothing lower.

Boston, MA
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1. Re: When a rate is not a rate

This is not unique to this specific hotel. I am currently booking rooms for a college tour with my daughter and found some internet rates will not be matched by the hotels. The internet rates are usually the lowest but not always. Some hotels will match the rate but many will not. Also, those really low Internet rates are usually non-refundable and must be prepaid in advance. So, sometimes it is a better value to call the hotel directly and book a room for a slightly higher rate because it usually can be refunded if you cancel 24 hours before of your arrival.

Nova Scotia
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2. Re: When a rate is not a rate

Hi Remay28. You are exactly right about the prepaid in advance, which is what I am trying to avoid. It was interesting though, this was the first time I have encountered three different rates for the same night! I like to 'bargain hunt' (why pay more than I have to for a room) and I start looking early! If it wasn't the 4th of July weekend, I would have just taken my chances.

As it is, we have decided to forego Manchester this year and head for Maine.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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3. Re: When a rate is not a rate

Agreeing with Remay.

If the only thing that matters to you is the rate itself, then there are trade offs. Full advance payment is usually one. Being assigned a low priority room on arrival is another. And generally if you book through a third party broker, you will have no recourse or options to complain at the hotel itself. They will advise you to contact the agent/broker about any problems you encounter. Satisfaction will not be a goal for a hotel that is making little or no profit on you as a customer.

Central Maine
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for Maine
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4. Re: When a rate is not a rate

K.C. --

Have also had numerous experiences where the on-line rate is considerably lower than quotes from the hotel front desk or their reservation center.....usually for one or more of the reasons RedRox describes. While this may be the first time you've encountered it, the refusal, or inability, of the "live people" you talk to by phone to match the on-line rate is no longer unusual....

As with many other kinds of purchases, the "low rate" featured on-line comes at other "costs"......

Technology sometimes makes life easier (like comparing hotel rates on-line), but sadly that doesn't necessarily mean it's always "better" or an improvement over the way we used to do things.....

Nova Scotia
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5. Re: When a rate is not a rate

So true folks, to all your responses.

I decided to post the story as a reminder that hotels have different ways of selling the same room and that you have to decide how to proceed in the way that suits your needs the best.

Thanks for all your comments.

Boston, MA
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6. Re: When a rate is not a rate

K.C. NovaScotia,

Oh, I'm the queen of bargain shopping especially for travel so I do understand! But know that I'm a little older, I'm starting to prefer value over bargain. (most of the time)

Here's an article that you might be interested in....

http://tinyurl.com/24e3692

Edited: 20 February 2011, 15:18
Nova Scotia
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1,422 posts
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7. Re: When a rate is not a rate

Remay28

Thanks for the great article! So true. When we travel we normally print off coupons from www.roomsaver.com . Only once have we found ourselves out of luck, due to a busy time. Those coupons are great. Have you tried them? Some places we have stayed have honored that rate for more than 1 night too. As I mentioned, because it is July 4th weekend, we knew the rates would be a little steeper, hence calling early. Last year we ended up at the Best Western Executive Court Inn in a junior suite for under $80, free upgrade. It was beautiful. This year, cheapest rate I could get from them was $109.

It did kind of strike me funny when the manager told me to call his hotel directly to get the better rate, and that rate ended up being the highest I was quoted!

Let's face it, the thrill of the bargain is exhilarating! I am still hunting for my bargain in Maine!

Boston, MA
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8. Re: When a rate is not a rate

My sister loves Rooms-Saver but to be honest I only knew of them thru their advert magazines in racks outside of McDonalds, Visitor Centers.etc. I did not know that they have on online site. I usually do very well with Kayak.com., Hotwire.com and a few others. I'm a loyalty member for a few chains and lately that's where I having been quoted the best deals (stay third night free, 20% lowest rate using the website site, etc)

Yes, calling the hotel is usually the best bet especially if you ask for the guarantee lowest rate of the est available but not always. Since, you are booking so far ahead and for the Fourth of July the hotel probably did not want to risk giving you their best deal, hoping that someone will pay more. It's all about Supply and Demand. $109 anywhere in the Northeast for July 4th is a great deal, especially this year, being that it is part of a three day weekend! And wow, great deal for a junior suite for under $80!!!

MA
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for New England
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9. Re: When a rate is not a rate

I have been doing a good bit of of travel booking for my spouse lately because of his work and I am beginning to see that the lowest online hotel rate is often the "Advance Purchase" rate for which you have to prepay in full in advance, no cancel and no change. This is disappointing, because his schedule tends to change at the last minute so I have to avoid those rates and book the higher ones that you are able to cancel at the last minute.

Nova Scotia
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10. Re: When a rate is not a rate

Exactly my situation Bookat

My father is seriously ill and we are planning our vacation with fingers crossed. To guarantee a room with a credit card is ideal but I don't want to pre-pay and then go through the routine of getting a refund back.

It really is buyer beware, isn't it? Good luck with your travel plans.