Several hotel chains, including Hilton and Marriott, have announced plans in recent months to provide discounts to their guests when you book directly with the company by phone or online. This comes on the heels of similar announcements last year offering free WiFi (often in exchange for direct bookings). And don’t forget that booking direct is sometimes the only way to earn points and credit toward elite status.
Today, Hyatt began offering a special discount of up to 10% when you book online, by phone, or with their mobile app. You must be a Gold Passport member to qualify, so be sure to log in when you visit the website. Discounts won’t be available for every reservation, however, and only properties in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are participating for now.
A couple years ago, Hyatt was offering “My Elite” rates that provided similar discounts but only to members with Gold Passport Platinum or Diamond status. These were even more generous, at up to 20% off, and have since been discontinued. The new offer is not restricted to elite members; anyone who joins Gold Passport can take advantage of these discounts. Similarly, anyone who books direct through Hyatt can enjoy free WiFi, regardless of elite status.
What are the benefits of booking direct? Hyatt says:
Best value: Hyatt.com has long offered the lowest prices. With Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee, if a guest finds a qualifying lower rate published on another site within 24 hours of booking, Hyatt will match it and discount it by 20 percent for the entire stay. See Hyatt.com for more details.
Loyalty program benefits: Hyatt Gold Passport members who make direct bookings can earn loyalty points and credit toward elite tier status, which provides members additional benefits such as free premium Wi-Fi and complimentary suite upgrades.
On-the-go access and support: Hyatt.com and the mobile app make it easy to manage reservations on-the-go, including reservation changes without surprise fees and around-the-clock support by phone or the social channels travelers prefer.
Personalized experiences: Not only can travelers select the right room type and amenities that fit their needs when they book direct, but Hyatt can also better get to know guests and tailor experiences accordingly.
Basically, hotels are doing almost anything they can to encourage guests to book directly rather than through a third-party online travel agency. Those OTAs take a cut of the revenue. Furthermore, encouraging customers to visit your own site makes it less likely that they’ll comparison shop with other chains.
I’ve found that hotels tend to do a good job of offering the lowest prices through direct channels — at least better than they used to — and have no qualms about booking with them. Yes, “best rate guarantee” terms have become more restrictive, but I almost never need to avail myself of them. So book direct when you can. I still begin the process by visiting a comparison site like Kayak or Hipmunk to get a general sense of which hotels are available.