Major Hotels Launch Internet Battle

If the rumours are true, two of the nation`s biggest hotel chains are set to announce that they will beat rates that customers find through online travel sites.

Six Continents PLC

, which includes Crowne Plaza, Inter-Continental and Holiday Inn, has quietly begun testing a policy to undercut by 10% any price that a customer finds on a travel Web site. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

, whose properties include the Westin, Sheraton and W chains, is expected to offer an identical plan that begins June 1.

That could be good news for travelers—at least as long as the industry remains in its current slump. If other hotel companies follow suit, it could trigger a battle with big discounters.


When it works, the payoff can be significant. Six Continents says one customer who booked four nights this July at a Crowne Plaza in Vancouver was quoted a total bill for the stay of 896 Canadian dollars (US$571) on the hotel`s Web site. However, the guest spotted a cheaper rate on

. After the 10% discount kicked in, the final bill came to C$608.40.

The catch is that taking advantage of the deals involves a lot of leg work, particularly since the hotel companies require that the room ultimately be booked on their own Web sites.