Several weeks ago, Marriott announced that they would be updating their global hotel cancellation policy as of January 1, 2015.
Through this new policy, guests will have until 11:59PM the day before arrival to cancel their reservations without penalty. This was both good and bad news, depending on the property.
Some hotels previously required you to cancel by check-in time the day before arrival, while other hotels let you cancel all the way through the day of arrival. About three quarters of Marriott properties fit in the latter category, so overall it’s a negative change, in my opinion.
Not surprisingly, Marriott isn’t the only hotel chain to make such a change. Hilton will also be updating their global cancellation policy as of January 1, 2015. Here’s what HHonors Representative posted on FlyerTalk:
I wanted to share a quick update with you. We are updating our reservation cancellation guidelines to a minimum of 11:59 p.m. local hotel time the day prior to arrival, and you will be required to provide a credit card at the time of booking.
These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2015. As always, cancellation policies may still vary depending on the rate or dates of your reservation, and some hotels have more restrictive policies in place, so please refer to your individual confirmations to verify their policy.
We’re making this change so that we can provide you with a more consistent booking process and make more rooms available for when you need last minute travel accommodations.
What’s interesting here is that unlike with Marriott, Hilton isn’t trying to create a new standard cancellation policy, but rather 11:59PM day before arrival will be the minimum cancellation policy. In other words, presumably hotels that made you cancel 24 hours before arrival aren’t changing their policy, but rather only hotels allowing cancellations day of arrival will be changing their policy.
Here’s the current cancellation policy for many properties:
While here’s the new cancellation policy for those properties:
As much as I’d like to hold this against Hilton and Marriott, I really can’t blame them. I went to a restaurant last night with my parents where we couldn’t get a table, since they were totally booked for the night. So we had dinner at the bar. Throughout our dinner there were at least a dozen empty tables, I guess from no shows.
The same thing is true of hotels. Hotels have a better shot at reselling rooms if they know who’s not going to show the night before, as opposed to only the afternoon of. Yes, they can oversell the hotel to account for the cancellation and no show rate, but that’s also a liability for them, since at times no shows can be difficult to predict, especially for airport hotels.
Of course I’m not happy about this change as a consumer, but I do see the hotels’ perspective on this as well.
Lastly, since Hilton seems so intent on following Marriott’s lead, here’s to hoping they’re also quick to add free Wi-Fi for all HHonors members… 😉