Staying Up to Date on Hotel Cancellation Policies

Earlier this week, I wrote about new hotel WiFi practices. Cancellations are another area where we are seeing changes in hotel policy that significantly impact business travelers.

Recently, Marriott and Hilton, two of the country’s largest hotel chains made broad changes to their cancellation policies. The new cancellation policies require that guests cancel their reservation by midnight the night before their stay, or else they incur a penalty equal to one night’s stay. This new policy replaces the longstanding practice of allowing guests to cancel a reservation as late as the evening of arrival. 

Photo Credit: Nik Stanbridge
Photo Credit: Nik Stanbridge

Some hotels are offering flexible rates – for example you could purchase a hotel room in advance for a lower price with a no-cancellation clause built in or you could pay more for that same room with the ability to cancel without penalty the night before the reservation. Others are increasing cancellation rates based on when the room is cancelled: the closer to the day of the reservation, the more expensive it is to cancel it.

For business travelers this policy change presents unique challenges because we require a certain level of flexibility when booking business travel. To add to the complication, these policy changes are not across the board for all hotel properties within a brand, and individual hotels could require even more advance notice for cancellations.

Similar to what I wrote in the post on hotel WiFi, transparency is key. We do not want to tell a hotel how they should do business, but we would like for hotels to be clear about their cancellation policies so that business travelers can avoid incurring fees for reservations that are cancelled outside of the hotel’s appropriate time frame.

Before making a hotel reservation it is important to know the cancellation policy, since it may be different for individual hotels within the same brand. It is the responsibility of the hotel to ensure cancellation policies and any subsequent changes are well advertised and communicated to the traveler and travel managers alike in advance of purchase.

We anticipate that in the coming months more hotel chains will adopt more restrictive policies regarding cancellations and will be following this closely. As more news comes in, we will post updates to the GBTA blog to help keep you educated and informed so you can make the best possible decisions for your travel policy.

View the full brief on hotel issues with the latest information.

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