IHG Has a New Best-Rate Guarantee – You Won’t Like It

Have you ever taken advantage of a hotels’ best-rate guarantee?

InterContinental Hotels Group’s lowest-price guarantee used to be pretty straightforward.

Our Lowest Price Promise (the “LPP”) is our promise to guests who book a hotel room directly on either IHG.com or the individual hotel brand website (together referred to as the “IHG Websites”, each an “IHG Website”) that our IHG Rewards Club member rate “Your Rate” is lower than any other price publicly available on any third party website.

Should you find a lower rate, within 24 hours of booking, IHG would give you the first night free and match the lower rate for the subsequent nights.

I doubt many travelers took the company up on the offer. Really, such guarantees are little more than a notices that the hotel’s rates are broadly competitive, and, critically, that consumers have no reason to book their stays anywhere other than on the hotel’s own website.

Still, IHG’s guarantee was a model of clarity and value.

With no advance notice, however, IHG this week changed the terms of its rate guarantee, to read as follows:

When you book directly with us, we promise you’ll always get the lowest price online. If you find a better price somewhere else, we’ll match it and give you five times the IHG Rewards Club Points, up to a 40,000-point maximum – so you can focus on your stay, not your wallet.

So, in place of a free first night, IHG will give you five times the number of IHG Rewards points, up to a maximum of 40,000 points. If we value IHG points at around 0.5 cents apiece, that amounts to a 20 percent rebate on the room rate.

And there it is: a 20 percent rebate, in the form of points, or a 100 percent free night. It’s still a best-rate guarantee, but it’s a shadow of its former self.

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.