One of the inner struggles when booking any type of travel is the desire to pay as little as possible and understand that spending a little extra would be incredibly convenient. It became such a problem for me that I made a rule for myself about decisions less than $15. I’ll always pay the money if it makes our lives easier.
I was presented with an interesting dilemma when booking a Courtyard by Marriott. The hotel is a category 3, perfect for using up some of our free night certificates.
That was, until I checked the room rate.
Booking the room
The first thing I did was check the cash price for the room.
It wasn’t very expensive but anything over $100 before tax is a good use for a certificate.
I went to check about using one of the certificates. To do so, you need to “pretend” that you are making an award booking. I said I was going to pay with points and was presented this option:
The cash and points rate was horrible and I didn’t want to redeem points for the whole stay. I clicked on the customized cash + points link. For once, here’s where the Marriott website is functional.
I’m shown a breakdown of each night and given the option to pay for each night with cash or points. For this stay, it would be better to pay with the free night certificates on Thursday and Saturday and just pay for the room on Friday.
I know I could find a much better use of a 35K certificate but remember I had more free nights than I could use and this was a chance to burn two of them.
Here’s my problem. With this booking, the least expensive night on Friday is costing me $115. If I booked that night with an AAA rate, it would cost around $95. So because Marriott’s website doesn’t let me apply AAA pricing when booking rooms using a free night certificate, I’m stuck paying the regular rate for the night where I’m not using points. For this example, that ends up costing an extra $20.
How could I fix this problem?
I could make multiple reservations. Use one of the certs on the first night, make a separate AAA reservation for night two and make a third reservation using a cert for the final night. I’d have to call the hotel and see if they could link the three reservations and hopefully we wouldn’t have to go back to the front desk every morning for a new set of keys.
Oh, did I mention I wasn’t going on this trip?
I was making all of these reservations for Sharon. Even if I were there, the hassle of linking three individual bookings between award stays and AAA rate might be pushing the limit too much and we could end up betting #Bonvoyed.
(Note from Sharon: What he didn’t mention was that although I enjoy the fruits of his hobby, I am not a willing or active participant in this whole points and miles and certificates and #Bonvoy thing. I was not going to go to the front desk every day and check out and check back in again, and deal with whatever could happen with whatever Marriott issues happen nowadays, and he knows it.)
But with me not being there, it was a simple decision to book the single reservation, combining the certificates with the cash rate for one night. We’re paid $20 extra but I think that’s a small price to keep our marriage on solid ground (Note from Sharon: he is a smart man).
This booking made me face some decisions I often have to make for our travels.
- Am I getting a good value for my points/free nights?
- Is there a cheaper way to book this reservation?
- Should I just pay the extra money to make it more convenient?
- Will Sharon stop talking to me if I book this?
I decided that it was best to use the two free night certificates because while I might get a better value for them down the road, I’d prefer to use them when I can and save the money now. I also decided that paying the $20 extra to make a single reservation was worth it to alleviate the fear of something happening to one of the reservations if I made them separately.
I know some of you will not agree with my decisions here and that’s OK because Your Mileage May Vary.
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