Luxury accommodations are an integral part of a memorable trip. However, they can often be quite expensive. How can you enjoy a luxurious stay without breaking the bank?

In this travel guide, we’ll explain why it’s usually cheaper to book directly through the official websites of hotel chains (such as Marriott, Hilton, Accor, InterContinental, etc.). We’ll also share strategies to help you secure a five-star luxury hotel room at a discounted price.

Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) for Hotels

What is BRG? It stands for Best Rate Guarantee, a promise of the best price.

Many hotel chains rely on third-party booking platforms like Expedia or Booking to attract customers.

However, these chains prefer their frequent guests to book directly through the hotel’s official website to avoid paying commissions to third-party platforms.

This is why most international hotel chains offer a Best Rate Guarantee. In essence, they assure customers that they don’t need to search elsewhere for room bookings as the lowest rate is assured on their official platform.

If you find a lower rate elsewhere, the hotel chain will offer you compensation. To avail of this benefit, you must be a member of the hotel group.

The hotel’s official website typically has a dedicated page for applying for BRG. If you book at a higher price on the official website, you can apply for BRG and upload relevant proof. Once approved by the hotel, you’ll receive compensation.

In conclusion, if you’re booking a hotel under a chain brand, you’ll get the best price by booking directly through the official website. If you find a lower price after booking, you can usually receive compensation by applying for BRG.

To learn more about applying for BRG, check out this guide on using the money-saving tool when booking a hotel – BRG Best Rate Guarantee.

hotel room

Register as a Hotel Member for Free

Most hotel groups offer free membership programs that you can join by providing your membership information. Here are some of the largest international hotel chains we recommend:

We’ve summarized the Members of Major Hotel Chains.

Once you become a member, you can enjoy exclusive benefits. While these can differ between hotel groups, they often include:

  • Special discounts for member bookings, usually between 5% and 20%.
  • The opportunity to earn points for room stays and other hotel expenses, which can be redeemed for free rooms or used to offset accommodation or dining costs.
  • Extra perks during your stay, such as late checkout, welcome drinks, and for higher-tier members, complimentary minibar, breakfast, and lounge access.

The membership benefits of major hotel groups worldwide are similar. We will introduce them individually below to help you quickly understand the benefits of each hotel group’s membership.

pool

Hotel Membership Benefits: Member Discounts

One of the key benefits of hotel membership is the savings you can make through member discounts.

Firstly, major hotel chains typically offer reduced room rates for members. These rates are often at least 5% cheaper than those available to non-members.

Secondly, besides daily room booking discounts, almost all major hotel chains run promotional campaigns each quarter. These promotions can cut room costs by as much as 50%, with numerous hotels participating.

These promotions, which can last from a few days to several weeks, offer a fantastic opportunity to book rooms in luxury chains at a discount.

However, how can you stay informed about these promotions, considering some only last a few days?

International hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott typically send updates to members via email. So, be sure to use an email address you check regularly when signing up for membership to receive the latest information.

Hotel Membership Benefits: Points Rewards

Once you become a hotel member, your expenses at the hotel, including room charges, dining fees, spa services, and other costs, can accumulate into points. For instance, the points policy of Marriott Hotel allows you to earn 10 points for every dollar spent.

marriott earn points

In addition to earning points through hotel stays, you can participate in periodic member points activities launched by the hotel. Major hotel groups typically offer such activities 1-2 times per quarter.

For example, during a double points bonus event, you can earn 1,000 points by spending $300 on a regular stay. In the same event, you could earn 2,000 points by spending the same amount.

Some hotel groups, such as Marriott and Hilton, occasionally offer activities where you can buy points with money. This is another way for frequent hotel goers to engage with hotel groups.

What can you do with the hotel points you earn?

The primary use of hotel points is to redeem free rooms. Most hotels allow points redemption for rooms without any added taxes or fees, and these bookings can often be cancelled with flexible terms.

Of all the major hotel groups, I find Accor’s points system to be the most beneficial. Every 2,000 points can be directly deducted by 40 euros. It’s a simple and straightforward system without the need to calculate off-season rates or categories.

Consider this: if you book a room during a hotel promotion or bonus points event, you not only get the hotel at a 50% discount, but also earn bonus points for future free room redemptions. This approach can significantly reduce your hotel accommodation expenses.

Check out the latest offers and points activities from major hotel groups

Hotel Membership Rights: Stay Benefits

By becoming a hotel member, you can enjoy exclusive benefits during your stay. Major hotel groups often advertise a vast array of membership benefits. As a frequent traveler, I can help you identify the most commonly used and valuable ones. Refer to these when choosing a hotel membership that suits you.

  • Members can enjoy booking discounts ranging from 5% to 20%. This tangible money-saving benefit is, in my opinion, the primary advantage of becoming a member.
  • Lounge access is a perk provided for high-level members and business travelers. Lounges offer drinks and snacks. Some luxury hotels even provide dedicated breakfast, dinner, and afternoon tea services in the lounge. The lounge also offers a quiet space for work or relaxation, significantly enhancing the stay experience.
  • Complimentary breakfast is particularly beneficial in resort-type hotels or hotels situated in remote areas where finding a restaurant might be inconvenient.
  • Extra points are awarded based on membership level. The higher the level, the more points you earn. Check the points ratio for members. For instance, Marriott regular members earn 10 points for every dollar spent, while platinum members earn 15 points per dollar.
  • Room upgrades are offered as another benefit. However, the type of room upgrade and its availability usually depend on the hotel’s situation and cannot be guaranteed.

GTV Hotel Reservation Tips

How to quickly upgrade your hotel membership?

If you understand the hotel membership upgrade policy, you generally follow the normal channels to upgrade to a senior membership. You need to stay up to 50-60 nights a year to enjoy the benefits of the executive lounge, complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, etc.

So is there a way to quickly upgrade your hotel membership with less money? some!

In order to retain customers, hotel groups have launchedQuickly upgrade activities to premium membership, there are even some membership plans where you can directly upgrade to a premium membership if you stay in the hotel for 0 nights.

For example, if you become an Intercontinental Ambassador, you can immediately become a Platinum member of InterContinental. For another example, you can pair Fliggy members with Accor members and directly upgrade to platinum membership without checking in.

The following are some current hotel membership program quick upgrade activities:

Quick upgrade guide for AccorHotels

Marriott Bonvoy quick upgrade guide

InterContinental Priority Club membership quick upgrade guide

Newcomer Induction Activities

If you’re thinking about joining a hotel group for the first time, it’s crucial to check if there are any activities for new members.

These can often be found on our Latest Promotions and Points Activities of Major Hotel Groups page.

For example, Marriott is currently offering a promotion for new members. By being referred by an existing member, you can receive an extra 2,000 points for each stay, up to five times. This amounts to approximately US$70. Essentially, these points could offset the cost of a stay, assuming you join the membership in a specific manner.

It’s important to note that this Marriott promotion isn’t advertised on their official website. To participate, you’d need to contact Marriott customer service. For more information, see our Detailed Marriott New Member Recruitment Guide.

All purchases in the hotel must be charged to the room account

Whether you’re dining in the restaurant, shopping, or using a taxi, all purchases should be charged to your room account. This allows you to accumulate more points. After all, it’s the same money spent, so why not earn more points for free room redemptions?

party

For instance, I once visited a resort in Thailand with my friends. We purchased some specialties at the resort. Instead of paying immediately, I asked the hotel staff to add these expenses to our room charges and settle the bill upon check-out.

As a platinum member of the hotel, I received a 20% discount on the specialties, much to my friends’ delight. Additionally, I earned extra points, which I later redeemed for a complimentary night’s stay in Phuket.

Even without a hotel stay, you can still accumulate points on your membership card. For example, if you dine at a Marriott hotel, simply present your membership card and allow the hotel to record your spending onto the card to earn more points.

Book through Official Hotel Channels

Most official hotel offers are exclusively for members and accept bookings only through official channels. These include the hotel’s official websites, apps.

If you book through third-party platforms like Expedia, Booking, you may not receive membership benefits at check-in.

So, if prices are comparable, it’s recommended to book through the hotel’s official website or app.

Maximize Your Benefits with a Credit Card

Booking hotels with a credit card can yield additional perks. Besides hotel membership benefits, you can also take advantage of offers from credit card companies.

Nearly all significant hotel groups collaborate with credit card firms. Information related to these partnerships is available in the booking strategies shared by each hotel group via GTV.

Choose the Hotel Membership That Suits You

You might be wondering, which hotel membership program should I join?

Consider factors such as your frequent travel destinations, the popular hotel brands in those areas, and the respective hotel prices. Your expectations for membership benefits also matter. For instance, do you prioritize complimentary breakfast over a room upgrade?

brakefast pool

Drawing from personal experiences as a frequent hotel guest, GTV offers the following advice:

  • Marriott Hotels has the world’s largest network with the most locations. If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Membership.
  • Accor Hotels offers exceptional value compared to other major hotel groups. This international hotel chain provides quality service without charging exorbitant rates, and the points system is user-friendly. If you prefer not to invest time in analyzing membership plans, Accor Hotels is a reliable mid-budget choice. Consider joining the Accor Hotels Member program.
  • If you frequently visit or favor a particular hotel, check if it belongs to a group. If it does, register as a group member before booking.

GTV has devised comprehensive membership strategies for multiple major hotel groups. Visit the Comparison of membership plans of major hotel groups for more information.

Additional resources:

Other Hotel Booking Guide

In addition to chain hotels, there are numerous other options. Below, we offer a few essential hotel booking strategies:

Use Hotel Price Comparison Websites

Regardless of which hotel you plan to book, start by visiting a hotel price comparison website to identify the platform offering the lowest booking price. There are many such websites. We recommend: Tripadvisor, Kayak, HotelCombined.

OTA Hotel Booking Websites

If you’re looking to stay at a non-international chain hotel, consider making a reservation on an OTA (Online Travel Platform) such as Booking, Agoda, and others.

These platforms offer numerous hotels and a multitude of reviews, making it easy to find hotels that meet your needs. For more details, see our Guide to the Best Hotel Booking Websites.

A New Approach to Luxury Accommodation

Traveling has evolved with many innovative options available. One such popular option is Airbnb, offering a broad selection of luxury accommodations, from beachfront villas to forest cabins.

For those currently traveling in the Asia-Pacific region, Klook and Trip provide numerous travel guides and accommodation recommendations, along with various travel and accommodation packages.

For any further inquiries about hotel reservations, feel free to leave a message for GTV.

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