Online travel agents like Expedia and Priceline make things easy for business travellers to book their hotel room along with their flight, usually at a discount. Now, Marriott is fighting back.
The hotel chain will offer improved rewards for loyalty program members who book directly with the hotel -- either through the company website, call centers, the Marriott app or approved business travel agents -- beginning next month. Rewards members who book directly are assured the lowest rates, and the chain said the rates will be widely available as of April 11, according to a recent press release. The new initiative will be available for more than 4,000 hotels worldwide. Moreover, if someone finds a lower rate than the one advertised through Marriott channels within 24 hours of booking a room, the chain will match the lower rate and apply an additional 25 percent discount.
Business travelers will not only receive the guaranteed lowest rate, but will also enjoy other members-only perks, including free Wi-Fi and mobile check-ins and check-outs.
Third-party booking sites like Expedia used to be beneficial to hotels that didn’t offer online booking platforms. In exchange, the lodging companies would pay a commission to the website, sometimes as high as 15 to 20 percent, according to Seeking Alpha. Now, those same sites are the competition. Hotels are attempting to increase direct bookings through campaigns like Marriott’s “It Pays to be Direct” or Hilton Worldwide’s “Stop Clicking Around.”
“We’re rewarding our loyal members by providing a rate exclusively designed to show them how valuable they are to us,” said Karin Timpone, global marketing officer of Marriott International, in a statement. “We also want to help dispel the myth that other travel websites offer better rates for our hotels. The simple fact is that you will find the lowest rates across our portfolio when you join Marriott Rewards and book direct.”