Effective January 1 this year, new last-minute cancellation policies went into effect at Marriott and Hilton.
This means that the relatively standard practice of allowing cancellations up to 5 or 6 pm on the day of arrival is no longer in effect.
In order to avoid paying for that first night, you now have to cancel a full 24 hours (or more, depending on property) in advance.
Some observers suspect that hotel chains imposed new rules to prevent travelers from booking a standard rate, then canceling the reservation at the last minute and re-booking at a cheaper rate using popular new last-minute booking sites and apps.
This new policy recently tripped up TravelSkills reader L.H. who was hit with a pesky fee and sent us the following correspondence with Marriott. (We have added bolding to highlight important parts)
Dear Marriott: Has your cancellation policy changed? I thought standard policy was until 5:00 PM day of arrival at location/property reserved. If my plans change, say, on a Thursday morning not requiring me to stay overnight that night will I still be charged for that night?
Dear Mr H: Thank you for contacting Marriott. We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with information.
Each individual property has the authority to decide their own cancellation policy. This will vary with each and every location. The new common standard will be one day prior to arrival to avoid any penalty charges. Some hotels will require more notice. Some locations will have these policies that can vary by season. If we can be of further assistance, we invite you to reply to this email. Thank you for choosing Marriott.
Marriott Customer Care
Related post: How to find “hidden” hotel discounts
Hi C, Thanks for your prompt reply, although I find your answer somewhat evasive.
You seem to be trying to present a scenario where the “individual property” has the authority yet the “new common standard” is one day prior.
Sounds like an answer form a politician trying to please both sides. The individual property can claim it is Marriott policy and Marriott can claim each individual property has the authority.
Actually, your answer simply raises other questions.
Is there going to be full disclosure (prior to booking a reservation) as to whose policy or which policy is the rule?
What was the reason for changing this policy?
As a long time Marriott customer (Life Time Platinum) I find it odd that Marriott now decides to penalize its loyal customer base with such a change.
If I am traveling and for example, I wake up on a Wednesday and check e-mail to find that my business meeting for early afternoon has been cancelled. That meeting was to extend to the next day, which is also cancelled.
I am staying at a Marriott property and instead of checking out and being able to cancel that night’s stay as I have done in the past, I will now check out, but have to pay that night’s stay and the property will most likely sell that room thus resulting in a double sale for Marriott for that night on that room.
Often when traveling, I think I will end up in one city and turns out I need to bypass that city to go ahead to the next. Or, in a large metropolitan area, due to whatever reason, it is advantageous to move to a different property on the other side of town.
Business travel is very often subject to change for a myriad of reasons.
It seems counterintuitive for a company in business to accommodate business travelers with such a change that is quite unaccommodating to business travelers.
In the past, Marriott certainly seemed to be marketing its properties as business traveler friendly and flexible.
The simple answer, my opinion of course, is that Marriott as a company has decided to seek additional revenue gain through a cute maneuver via a “policy change” to pad its coffers.
I invite you to share my e-mail with Marriott management. I am theorizing there are many other loyal (former?) Marriott customers shaking their heads over this one.
What do you think about these new cancellation policies? Is it fair for travelers? What about hotels losing money on no-shows? Please leave your comments below!
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