Free Hotels Around the World - A Lesson in BRG

With the copious amount of online travel booking sites (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline), competition to draw in customers is essential for a business to survive.  Many promotions are available to loyal customers, and vendors want consumers to believe they are getting the best rates when booking.  Many online travel booking sites have instituted “Best Rate Guarantees” or something worded along those lines that provide massive savings.  There are too many sites to choose from which has caused the need for travel site search aggregators (Trivago, Hipmunk, Kayak), which compare the hotel rates from multiple booking sites all at once.  This has made the search for acquiring the Best Rate Guarantees (BRG) incredibly easy.  For most of my vacation, I tried to maximize the value provided by these BRG’s as much as possible.  

For more information, please see Google.

DateCityHotel NameBooking SiteOut of pocketBRG AwardNet SpendNotes
3/9/2014New YorkThe Gem Hotel - Midtown$3.50First night free$ BRG = free night
3/11/2014SeoulNoble$0$50 BRG -/+-$50Used $50 voucher, aqcuired $50 voucher
3/12/2014ShanghaiSeagull on the$74$74 Orbitz Bucks$0$74 out of pocket turned into Orbucks
3/13/2014OsakaBest Western$70$100 BW Cert$30$100 Best Western certificate (not sure if stackable)
3/14/2014Bangkokaloft BangkokStarwoodHotels.com3000 StarpointsN/A$0Used points via Credit Card bonus points
3/15/2014Koh SamuiReplay Residence and Pool$33.51Used $50 BRG$33.51Expedia Flash Sale, Used $50 BRG (originally $83.51)
3/16/2014Koh SamuiReplay Residence and Pool$0$0$33.51 was cost for 3 nights
3/17/2014Koh SamuiReplay Residence and Pool$0$0$33.51 was cost for 3 nights
3/17/2014Koh SamuiAl's$17.17Used $74 Orbucks$17.17Had a hotel paid already, but wanted one by the beach
3/18/2014BangkokAdmiral$14$50 BRG -/+-$50Used $50 BRG and gained $50 BRG
3/19/2014BangkokAdmiral$14$50 BRG -/+-$50Used $50 BRG and gained $50 BRG
3/21/2014RomeRadisson Blu es. Hotel RomeClubCarlson.com44k CC pointsN/A$0Used points via Credit Card bonus points
3/22/2014Romelast night free$0Last night free on a 2 night stay with hotel credit card
3/23/2014FlorencePlus Florence Hostel$4.94$50 BRG -/+-$50Used $50 voucher, aqcuired $50 voucher
3/24/2014FlorencePlus Florence Hostel$67$67Changed vacation plans to stay another night
Totals11 Hotel Paid Nights$298.12-$48.82

After spending about $300 for 11 paid hotel nights, I'm left with 4 Expedia $50 BRG Vouchers and $100 in Best Western credit. This will definitely help me maximize my next trip.

For my March 2014 Around-the-World Adventure, I “capitalized” on the following BRG programs:
Find a lower rate and your first night is free.  Booked just one night so my entire stay was free at the Gem Hotel Midtown West in New York.
Depending upon your Orbitz membership level, you can receive UP TO (depending on how much you spend) $100/150/200 back for a booking.  The crappy thing about this (that I found out the hard way) is that if you use any portion of your Orbucks in a reservation, you will not qualify to make a BRG claim.  I got burned on this by using Orbucks on a non-refundable reservation that would have qualified for an BRG claim.
Find a lower rate and Expedia will match the rate and include a $50 Expedia voucher.  The great thing about this is that when Expedia looks at the lower rate, they look at the advertised rate WITHOUT taxes which can save you a significant amount of cash.  In addition to this, your BRG rate qualifies even if you use a BRG voucher to book the reservation.
Find a lower rate and receive a $100 Best Western gift card.  

There's many more sites and promotions, these are just the ones I found that worked best for this trip.