Be careful about travel Agent reservations! You may not get SPG credit!

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by jbcarioca, Sep 30, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I just did not get credit from 16 nights and four stays because the stays were booked through a travel agent. Usually I book direct but this time I used an agent because it was simpler and my client wanted it that way. Now I have zero credit for about $10,000 in costs, nor do I have credit for Elite status nights or stays.:mad:

    The rate does not matter. In this case the agent paid essentially the same rates as my corporate rates, so the hotels had no lower yields.

    The request to Platinum Concierge for at least the nights and stays credited, not Starpoints, we met with absolute denial. There si no recourse, it seems, no matter how much the hotel actually received.

    Be very careful! You do not want the same to happen to you.:(:mad:
     
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  2. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Sorry to hear this. What likely happened here is the agent booked through a 3rd party supplier. These reservations are typically cheaper, but often not eligible for credit. A good travel agent should have known/asked how important points and miles are to you and made sure to book what would get you credit.

    This should not be seen as warning to not use a travel agent. But a warning that if you use a travel agent engage in a discussion of your likes and wants and make sure you're getting what you think you are.

    For example I book all my Hilton rooms through Hilton's web site and add my agency id number to the bookings when I make them. I will not do most package deals for trips with Hilton hotels via other vendors because I chase status.

    SPG has a program called StarwoodPro that should allow any travel agent to book you rooms that will count for credit and points. In fact, the agent needs to complete the SWP program to be able to get those rare agent rates (that will not count) for their own stays.
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Actually I discussed all this with the travel agent, whose arrangements were made direct with the hotels. In most cases it works as you say, but in this one the actual hotel yield was roughly equal to my corporate rates. (I know that only because of my client relationship with the agent). However, this exclusion seems to be booking-source based, not yield-based. Were it yield-based one could hardly argue, just as airline fare codes are yield-based and nobody expects deeply discounted fares to produce credit. Thus, it is hardly fair to expect hotels to be different.

    However, because hotel pricing is less visible than is airline pricing, and is property-specific, they do have a practice of excluding some booking sources from rewards regardless of hotel yield.

    Oddly, this is the first time that has ever happened to me. I suppose I should be less dismayed.
     
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  4. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    This TA doesn't think it so odd as it is quite rare that bookings made direct do not qualify for stay credit nor points. While I have a built in bias you could've as easily stumbled upon these non-qualifying nightly rates yourself so blaming the TA is not entirely valid. It must have been some sort of bulk rate or group, convention or otherwise specially negotiated rates as theya re the only kind that do not qualify.
     
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  5. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Have you talked directly with any of the hotels to get an explanation? Do you have copies of a bill at check-out from each hotel? Whose name is on those bills?
     
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  6. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I had a stay that I booked via a TA website which had a decent discount code. The terms of the booking said no spg points...but I did ultimately get the points. And a multi-category upgrade.
     
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  7. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    They were NOT bulk rates. I saw the rates the agent paid themselves and they were mostly identical to my corporate rates but in a couple of cases they were higher than my corporate rates. I used them because of their connection to my client, but had access to their net rates.
    I talked with each hotel. Each said a prepaid rate, regardless of teh actual price, would not get credit. These were prepaid rates, even though they were not discounted below my corporate rates. I ahve copies of all the paymenst and bills.
    I was upgraded in each hotel and did get Platinum benefits.
     
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  8. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    Prepayment of reservations can mean only one of two things: either you booked a nonrefundable rate directly with the hotel or were booked through a third party wholesaler. My guess is it was the latter despite the TA telling you they booked direct with the hotel and the obvious way to find out is what posted to your credit card. If it was some hotel reseller it would say the name instead of Hilton Hotel X for example.
     
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  9. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Actually that is not quite correct. Many hotels and SPG properties too, offer prepaid rates to corporate clients. I have negotiated many direct bill and prepaid rates for my own company and for clients. They are definitely not only for special individual or wholesalers. These rates, billed individually to my credit card were of the former category and differed from our normal rates only in being prepaid. the actual price was about the same. These reservations had no wholesaler anywhere involved, only the captive inhouse TA of my client.

    I do know the difference, as do many other frequent travelers. The issue here is simply that these properties, all Chinese, exclude any domestic TA reservations from accrual, according to each individual property.
     
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  10. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    I see and in that case resectfully feel a more specific thread title would've been in order given you only meant some types of specially negotiated rates in one specific market, not all TA bookings. If that's overly pedantic given my profession I'll plead guilty and pay the fine.
     
  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    You are absolutely correct. My bad!
     
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  12. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    The current SPG T&Cs for exclusions are...
    4B.4. An “Eligible Rate” is the rate you pay for your room, but excludes:​
    (a) rooms where the booking is made by a third party and you pay for that booking either at the hotel or directly to such third party, such as tour operators, and third party channels, including, but not limited to priceline.com, expedia.com, hotels.com, hrn.com, hotwire.com, lastminute.com, site59.com, orbitz.com, travelocity.com, cheaptickets.com, quickbook.com, travelweb.com, lodging.com, yahootravel.com, and travel.msn.com;​
    (b) room rates for group commercial or group leisure bookings where rooms are booked as part of a conference or organized tour that is either master billed or paid at tour operator rates or where the bookings for six or more rooms are linked;​
    (c) room rates that are master billed or paid at tour operator rates, wholesaler rates, including STARnet, STARPRO rates, and crew room rates;​
    (d) employee rates and friends and family rates; and​
    (e) complimentary rooms.​

    As best I can tell, your issue must be in (a). But I wouldn't have thought that a typical TA would have been considered a "tour operator" or a "third party channel." Is there more to this TA's business than what we know? Is this TA's business normally as a "tour operator"?

    Did these reservations even end up in Starwood's reservation system? Can you see your reservations through spg.com, and can the Plat Concierge see the records of your reservations? Or were the reservations only recorded in an in-house reservation system?
     
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  13. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    There is that catch-all (d) which is where mine was. That allows them to exclude any corporate rate or inhouse TA they wish to. My reservations were on spg.com and Plat concierge had them. However, that is the out they had. A major issue is that properties can decide such exclusions on their own as they did in this case. It does not often happen but it does sometimes, especially in places like China. That is why I posted it. Nearly all TA's imagine this does not happen, but it does. The pricing in this case was, as it always is, property by property, but the bookings were originally made through Amdeus, and appeared immediately on spg-com on my bookings.
     
  14. tcook052
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    One party, two systems apparently in this case means the uneven application of the T&C in China versus other parts of the globe regarding these kinds of corp. rates and it shouldn't be the case. Hopefully SPG is reading and eliminates the disparity OP unfortunately ran into.
     
  15. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    I don't see (d) as a catch-all to include corporate rates, so I'd like to hear SPG's take on it. I see (d) as representing StarHOT employee rates and StarFriend employee friend rates.
     
  16. SPG Champion
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    SPG Champion Official Representative

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    I don't think (d) applies here at all unless they booked you at the Starhot or Starfriend rate.

    That being said, just because a booking shows up in your upcoming reservations at spg.com, that doesn't make it eligible either.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Thanks William. I do not question the policy, but wish it were more obvious to members, thus my post. I am sure it happens with other chains as well, but it has not previously to me.
     
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  18. SPG Champion
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    I'd be glad to take a look and get a second opinion as far as this booking is concerned, but all it takes for your reservation to show up at spg.com is for it to have your SPG account number attached to it. Travel agents have the ability to do that, even on ineligible rates they may book.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
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  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Thanks for that offer, but I do not want to press further. There are much more important things for you to worry about than this one!
     
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  20. kaka
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    kaka Gold Member

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    i think this has to do with (TA)industry rebates...
    this had always happened to me when i book through TAs, and is 1 reason why hotel groups want us to book direct and give us incentive (status) to do so.
     
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  21. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    I completely disagree with this statement.

    You can earn status on bookings by a TA. It obviously depends upon things, but booking through a travel agent is not the sole reason to not get points or status.
     
  22. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    100% agree. The big issue here really, IMO, is that YMMV when many of us think it is fairly cut and dried. Not to indulge in hubris but the point of the thread is that I thought if I could get caught on this point, so could most of us. I am hardly an inexperienced traveler. My error in retrospect is that i made it specific to *W and I should not have done that. It is applicable to all hotels.

    I might have also pointed out that this issue is more common in some countries than others. FWIW I think China and Italy are two of the more common geographies with this issue. The idea of these exclusions is explained as specific codes, wholesalers, and/or agent rebates but the customer reality remains the same regardless.

    Everyone should also remember Starwood Champions point that appearing on the SPG acount does not equate eligibility. BTW, in most cases like that the fare box on teh SPG reservation display will not display. If that happens you can be quite sure that your stay will not accrue points.
     
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  23. SC Flier
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    I certainly wasn't meaning to imply that presence on spg.com was a sign that it would be an eligible rate, but absence from spg.com would certainly be a caution sign.

    Since I still haven't heard good reason for your stays to be excluded, I do hope that you'll reconsider letting Starwood Champion or someone else from SPG review your account again to provide a better explanation.
     
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  24. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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    Amen! It's not so much how the reservation is made as what is reserved.
     
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  25. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I already did have the Platinum people do it and they were quite categorical that the hotels would not give credit and that was that. I would rather have William spend his time on something that might be possible rather than tilting at windmills.
     
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