Here is the secret to getting the lowest rates on hotel rooms every time you book: Join a hotel loyalty program. You’ve heard it from us before (and we’ll say it again), but this is by far the best way to ensure you’re getting the best rates on the market. Here’s why…
Loyalty Programs Are the Secret to Lower Prices
There are many benefits to booking your stay directly on the hotel’s website: better customer service, more flexibility, potential upgrades, etc. But the biggest advantage is that when you book direct, you can join and reap the benefits of the hotel’s loyalty program. These groups, in addition to carrying benefits like automatic upgrades and late checkout, are the one exception to pricing restrictions across the hotel industry.
If you don’t know what we mean by “pricing restrictions”… hotel rates are subject to what are called rate-parity rules. This means that the publicly available price for a specific room must be the same no matter where it’s sold. This was created to prevent hotels from constantly undercutting the price of hotel rooms sold via online travel sites (like Expedia, Booking.com, etc.) and vice versa. In a nutshell, it means that the price you’ll pay for a room on Hilton.com will be the same as the price you’ll pay for that same room on Travelocity.com (for example.) No matter where you book your hotel room, it should be about the same price. Except—this is big, guys—if you’re a member of a hotel’s loyalty program.
Hotel loyalty programs are considered a “closed user group” and are therefore the one opportunity hotels have to sell rooms for lower than the rates set by the rate parity rules. That’s the key; that’s how to find rates lower than what you’ll see on common travel booking sites.
The Benefits of Hotel Loyalty Programs
1. You Get Perks
Joining a hotel loyalty program is the fastest, cheapest ticket to the insider clubhouse experience everyone wants. Depending on which loyalty program you join, you can automatically unlock access to perks like late checkout, free Wi-Fi, automatic room upgrades, access to boujee lounges, and other free stuff. You’ll also ensure that you’ll get the best customer service available. The hotel knows it has a long-lasting relationship with you and will do everything possible to preserve that.
Be sure to compare loyalty programs before you join and consider what’s most important to you and what perks you’ll get the most use out of. You might be a sucker for a room upgrade, or feel like royalty when given a yummy free breakfast, or maybe you just want to be able to spend your points at a luxury hotel like the Ritz every now and then. All loyalty programs are different, so you can find one that’s perfect for you.
2. You Get Points
We spend more time on this topic here, but the short of it is that when you join a hotel loyalty program, you’ll start accruing points that you can redeem for free stays, upgrades, and more. Whether you choose to sign up for a hotel credit card to earn even more points (FYI, this is the quickest way) or simply sign up for the loyalty program, you’ll still earn points with every stay. And points add up!
3. You Get the Best Deal
To bring it all back together, hotel loyalty programs are your loophole to getting around rate parity restrictions; they’re the hotels’ only opportunity to give you a better deal. When you book direct as a member of a hotel loyalty program, you not only get all the perks we talked about, but you’ll know you’re getting the best rate available.
When you start your hotel search on Roomkey.com, we’ll show you the loyalty rates from our hotel partners so you can compare the best prices out there. Once you choose your hotel and your rate, we’ll send you off to the hotel’s website where you’ll complete your booking and secure that low rate. And, if you’re a real believer, you can download Scout, a browser extension that shows you the loyalty rate for hotel rooms when you’re browsing on sites like Expedia or Travelocity. You’ll never have to be the victim of rate parity price restrictions again!
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