If you’ve ever booked a hotel only to find the rate much higher than advertised, you may wonder – are hotels obligated to honor the prices they promote? It’s a tricky question, and the answer depends on the specifics of the situation.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hotels are generally not required to honor prices that are posted in error. However, most reputable hotels will try to accommodate guests if there is a discrepancy between an advertised rate and what is available at booking.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore hotel rate policies in depth, including when hotels have to honor prices, what constitutes an error or omission, and strategies travelers can use to secure the best rates every time.

When Are Hotels Required to Honor Rates?

One of the most common questions that travelers have is whether hotels are obligated to honor the rates they advertise. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of reservation, applicable laws, and the hotel’s own policies. Let’s explore these factors in more detail.

For Confirmed Reservations

When you make a confirmed reservation at a hotel, whether it’s through their website, a third-party booking site, or over the phone, the hotel is generally required to honor the rate you were quoted. This means that if you received a confirmation email or a reservation number, the hotel cannot change the rate upon your arrival.

However, it’s always a good idea to double-check the terms and conditions of your reservation to ensure you understand any potential exceptions or clauses that may apply.

Under Truth in Advertising Laws

Hotels are also obligated to uphold truth in advertising laws. This means that they must accurately represent the rates they advertise and not engage in deceptive practices. If a hotel advertises a specific rate, they are generally required to honor it.

However, keep in mind that there may be certain limitations or conditions mentioned in the fine print, so it’s important to read the details carefully.

For Certain Discount or Loyalty Programs

Hotels often offer special rates and discounts for members of loyalty programs or specific groups. In these cases, hotels are typically required to honor the rates associated with these programs. For example, if you are a member of a hotel’s loyalty program and are entitled to a discounted rate, the hotel should honor that rate when you make a reservation.

However, it’s always a good idea to confirm the terms and conditions of the program to understand any potential limitations or restrictions.

As a Matter of Corporate Policy

In addition to legal obligations, hotels may also have their own corporate policies regarding rate integrity. Many reputable hotel chains place a high priority on maintaining customer trust and satisfaction.

As such, they strive to honor the rates they advertise, even if they are not legally obligated to do so. This commitment to customer service helps build loyalty and ensures that guests have a positive experience during their stay.

When Hotels Can Rescind Advertised Rates

Hotels occasionally need to rescind advertised rates due to various reasons. While it may be disappointing for travelers, there are legitimate circumstances under which hotels are allowed to do so. Understanding these situations can help you avoid any misunderstandings or frustrations during your hotel booking process.

Obvious Errors or Omissions

One of the situations in which hotels can rescind advertised rates is when there are obvious errors or omissions in the pricing. These errors can occur due to technical glitches on the hotel’s website or human mistakes during the rate input process.

If a room rate seems too good to be true, it’s possible that it is a result of a genuine mistake. Hotels have the right to correct such errors and provide the correct rate before confirming your reservation.

Outdated Availability or Prices

Hotels also reserve the right to rescind advertised rates if the availability or prices have changed since the time of the advertisement. This can happen when there is a delay in updating the hotel’s online inventory or when the demand for rooms suddenly increases, leading to a change in pricing.

While it may be frustrating, hotels need to adjust their rates to reflect the current market conditions and availability.

Failure to Meet Rate Requirements

In some cases, hotels may have specific requirements for certain rates, such as minimum stay restrictions or eligibility criteria. If you fail to meet these requirements, the hotel may rescind the advertised rate and offer you an alternative rate that aligns with the requirements.

It’s important to carefully read the terms and conditions of the rate before making your reservation to avoid any surprises.

Disclaimers in Rate Descriptions

Hotels often include disclaimers in the rate descriptions to protect themselves from potential rate rescissions. These disclaimers typically state that rates are subject to change without notice, and the hotel reserves the right to modify or cancel reservations if necessary.

It’s essential to read these disclaimers and understand the hotel’s policies before booking a room.

Strategies for Securing Advertised Rates

Book Early and Prepay

One of the most effective strategies for securing advertised rates at hotels is to book early and opt for the prepayment option. By doing this, you not only ensure that you lock in the advertised rate, but you may also be eligible for additional discounts or perks.

Hotels often offer lower rates to those who book in advance and prepay for their stay, as it helps them better manage their inventory and forecast demand.

According to a study conducted by Hotel News Now, booking at least 21 days in advance can result in savings of up to 25% compared to last-minute bookings. So, if you have a specific hotel in mind and want to secure the advertised rate, it’s best to plan ahead and make your reservation as early as possible.

Call to Confirm Rates

While online booking platforms may display advertised rates, it’s always a good idea to call the hotel directly to confirm the rates. Rates can sometimes vary depending on the time of booking or other factors, and speaking directly with a hotel representative can help ensure that you get the best available rate.

Additionally, by calling the hotel, you may have the opportunity to negotiate the rate or inquire about any special promotions or discounts that may not be advertised.

Hotels are always looking to maximize their occupancy rates, so they may be willing to offer a better deal over the phone to secure your reservation. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and explore all possible options to secure the advertised rate or even get a better deal.

Leverage Loyalty Status

If you are a member of a hotel loyalty program, make sure to leverage your loyalty status to secure the advertised rates. Loyalty program members often enjoy exclusive benefits, such as discounted rates, room upgrades, or even complimentary amenities.

By booking directly through the hotel’s website or calling their reservation line and providing your loyalty program information, you increase your chances of accessing the advertised rates and potentially receiving additional perks.

Remember to check the terms and conditions of your loyalty program to ensure that you are eligible for the advertised rates. Some loyalty programs may have specific requirements or restrictions when it comes to accessing discounted rates or promotions.

Look for Rate Guarantees

Many hotels offer rate guarantees, which means that if you find a lower rate for the same room type and dates, they will match or beat it. Rate guarantees provide peace of mind and assurance that you are getting the best possible rate.

To take advantage of rate guarantees, make sure to thoroughly research rates across different booking platforms and compare them to the advertised rate on the hotel’s official website.

Keep in mind that rate guarantees usually come with certain conditions, such as providing proof of the lower rate or booking directly through the hotel’s website. It’s essential to read the terms and conditions of the rate guarantee to understand the requirements and ensure eligibility.

By following these strategies, you can increase your chances of securing advertised rates at hotels. Remember to book early, call to confirm rates, leverage your loyalty status, and look for rate guarantees. With careful planning and research, you can enjoy your stay at a great rate!

Handling Discrepancies in Advertised and Actual Rates

When booking a hotel, it can be frustrating to discover that the rate you were quoted is not the same as the actual price you are expected to pay. However, it is important to understand that hotels have certain policies in place when it comes to rate discrepancies.

By knowing how to handle these situations, you can increase your chances of getting a resolution that is fair and satisfactory.

Point Out Rate Differences Quickly

If you notice a difference between the advertised rate and the actual rate at check-in, it is crucial to bring it to the hotel’s attention as soon as possible. Politely inform the front desk staff or the hotel manager about the discrepancy and provide them with any relevant information you have, such as the website or advertisement where you found the lower rate.

This will allow them to address the issue promptly and provide you with a solution.

Provide Screenshots or Documentation

In cases where you have found a lower rate online but are being charged a higher rate at the hotel, it can be helpful to provide screenshots or any other documentation that supports your claim. This evidence can serve as proof of the advertised rate and can assist the hotel staff in resolving the discrepancy more efficiently.

Be sure to have this information readily available when discussing the issue with the hotel staff.

Ask Politely for Accommodations

When addressing a rate discrepancy, it is important to approach the situation with politeness and respect. Kindly request that the hotel honor the advertised rate or offer a suitable accommodation, such as a room upgrade or complimentary services.

By maintaining a respectful tone, you are more likely to receive a positive response and a resolution that satisfies both parties.

Involve Third-Party Booking Sites if Needed

If you booked your hotel through a third-party website, such as Expedia or Booking.com, and there is a rate discrepancy, it may be helpful to involve the booking site in the resolution process. Contact their customer service and explain the situation, providing them with all the relevant details.

They can act as a mediator between you and the hotel, helping to resolve the discrepancy and ensure a fair outcome.

Remember, hotels understand that rate discrepancies can occur and are often willing to work with guests to find a solution. By following these steps and maintaining a calm and respectful demeanor, you increase your chances of resolving any rate discrepancies and enjoying a pleasant stay at the hotel.

Common Questions about Hotel Rate Policies

Is an advertised price legally binding?

When hotels advertise their prices, it is important to understand that not all advertised prices are legally binding. In most cases, hotels have the right to change their rates without any legal repercussions.

This is because hotel rates are typically considered as invitations to treat rather than legally binding offers. However, it is still good business practice for hotels to honor the prices they advertise to maintain customer trust and satisfaction.

Can hotels change rates after booking?

Hotels do reserve the right to change their rates even after a booking has been made. While this may seem unfair to customers, it is important to consider that hotels operate in a dynamic market where demand and supply fluctuate frequently.

External factors such as events, holidays, or sudden changes in the economy can impact hotel rates. However, it is standard practice for hotels to honor the rate that was confirmed at the time of booking.

In case of rate changes, hotels usually notify customers and give them the option to accept the new rate or cancel their reservation without any penalty.

What constitutes an error in advertised rates?

Errors in advertised rates can occur occasionally, and hotels have policies in place to address such situations. An error in an advertised rate may include a significantly lower price than the intended rate due to a typo, technical glitch, or human error.

However, minor discrepancies or fluctuations in rates are not typically considered as errors. It is important to note that hotels are not obligated to honor error rates, but many hotels choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill towards their customers.

It is always recommended for customers to carefully review the terms and conditions of their booking and be aware of any rate change policies before making a reservation. If there are any concerns or discrepancies regarding hotel rates, it is best to contact the hotel directly to seek clarification and resolve any issues.

For more information on hotel rate policies, you can visit www.hotelnewsnow.com or www.hospitalitynet.org.


While hotels are not strictly required to honor all advertised rates, reputable hotels will make every effort to accommodate guests when there is a discrepancy between promoted prices and actual room costs.

By booking early, confirming rates, and reviewing policies upfront, travelers can maximize their chances of securing the best available hotel prices. With flexibility and preparation, you can avoid unpleasant surprises at check-in and enjoy hotel stays that provide solid value.

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