Sunday, August 29, 2021

Happy Hawaiian Holiday - day "minus 7" - watching Marriott like a hawk


The last leg of our trip will be on Oahu, so I looked to book a room for two, for three nights. I settled on the Waikiki beach area, because there are a lot of hotels there and the prices, while not cheap, are not exorbitant. (Look for rooms in Miami Beach in the most popular areas, and you probably won't fund anything under $500 per night, so I figured, at least Waikiki is cheaper.)

After wading through hotel lists for dozens of hotels (all with individual strengths and weaknesses), and hundreds of customer reviews, and comparing prices for various sorts of rooms to get a feeling for a price point I could accept, my top choice was a Junior Suite at the Laylow Autograph Collection property (Marriott). The public areas are in a modern style following a $60M "overhaul" in 2017, and the room is big. It's not right on the beach, but close, and I already had a membership in Marriot's membership program (named "Bonvoy").

At first, the room was offered on Marriott's web site at $280 per night (senior rate, 62+). The various travel sites (TripAdvisor, TravelZoo, Expedia, Orbitz, hotels dot com) were no cheaper. After several days, I decided to log in to Bonvoy and book the room, and the price had gone up that day to $299.

So, I booked it along with a second choice (not Marriott, smaller room, better view, $271). I eventually canceled the second choice, so I won't discuss it in detail.

I kept poking at the Marriott web site each day. If the price changed once, I at least wanted the satisfaction of seeing the price go up again while my booked rate stayed at $299. But, a few weeks later, the price dropped back to $288. I logged on to Bonvoy, edited my booking, rebooked the same Junior Suite room type, and my price did indeed drop back. To Marriott's credit, I didn't have to call a live person.

Then, a few weeks later the price dropped back to $271 (my first choice was then the same price as my second choice which never changed rates). I was again able to edit my booking and get the lower rate.

I cannot explain the reason for the rate changes except to guess that some algorithm alternately encourages and discourages customers like me. The $271 price appeared before the worst of the delta variant virus surge and has held for a few weeks. The arrival date for Waikiki is still almost three weeks away, so we'll see if we can squeeze a few more dollars out of Marriott.

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