Can HotelConxions Beat a Low-Price Guarantee?

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Courtesy Ramada Plaza Hotel
Ramada Plaza Hotel

These days, most hotels guarantee you'll get the lowest rate by booking through the company's website. If you can prove there's a cheaper price through a booking engine or travel agency, the hotels say they'll match that rate--and sometimes give a discount. But there are exceptions. The guarantees only extend to rates that are advertised or found on a website. Opaque bookings through sites such as Priceline don't count--because you don't learn what you're buying until after you've bought it.

The product

HotelConxions, a New York City-based agency, recently announced that it would promise "exclusive deals" to customers who book over the phone through the end of the year (800/522-9991, hotelconxions.com). Because prices aren't advertised or displayed on the Internet, the hotels are under no obligation to match them. Customers can expect to receive as much as 20 percent off a hotel's published rates, claims HotelConxions. "A lot of branded hotels, such as Marriott and Starwood, give us lower opaque rates," says HotelConxions president Anil Patel. "They just don't want us to disclose them on the Internet." Unlike with a booking through Priceline, however, HotelConxions' customers know the price and name of the hotel before their credit card is charged.

The test

We compared HotelConxions' rates versus booking direct at 10 hotels. We requested price quotes for the same date and style of room to make sure we were comparing apples to apples. The results (left) were muddled. HotelConxions' prices were lower half the time. For the Ramada Plaza Hotel in New Orleans, the agency's Internet rate was actually better than what it offered over the phone; both were substantially less than the book-direct price. In instances when HotelConxions' rate was lowest, we called the hotels to see if they would match or do better than HotelConxions. No one bit.

The verdict

A 50 percent success rate isn't bad, but it's also not exactly reliable. Chalk this up as yet another example of how there's no choice but to shop around to ensure you're truly getting a deal.

We compared hotel website prices with offers from HotelConxions. The results were mixed.

Ameritania Hotel, New York City
Hotel Website: $429
Hotel Conxions Website: $395
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $395

Bentley Hotel, New York City
Hotel Website: $429
Hotel Conxions Website: $395
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $395

InterContinental Buckhead, Atlanta
Hotel Website: $209
Hotel Conxions Website: $239
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $219

L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Hotel Website: $169
Hotel Conxions Website: $209
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $178

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, Chicago
Hotel Website: $149
Hotel Conxions Website: $149
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $140

Ramada Plaza Hotel, New Orleans
Hotel Website: $149
Hotel Conxions Website: $115
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $124

The Argent Hotel, San Francisco
Hotel Website: $139
Hotel Conxions Website: $145
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $145

Holiday Inn City Line, Philadelphia
Hotel Website: $138
Hotel Conxions Website: $125
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $125

Hotel Helix, Washington, D.C.
Hotel Website: $129
Hotel Conxions Website: $185
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $172

Days Inn Intercontinental, Houston
Hotel Website: $42 Hotel Conxions Website: $55
Hotel Conxions Via Phone: $55

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