Hilton Is Matching Marriott’s Restrictive New Cancelation Policy

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Marriott quietly implemented a 48-72 hour cancelation policy at their properties in North America.

Previously most flexible rates allowed cancelations until the day prior to arrival. So now if you pay a premium for a flexible rate, you have to cancel it at least 2-3 days in advance, which is tough for those of us who frequently have plans change last minute. Let’s keep in mind that it was just in 2015 that Marriott changed their global cancelation policy to require you to cancel the day prior to arrival; before that they typically let you cancel until the day of arrival.

The logic here is pretty obvious. A lot of travelers cancel reservations last minute, and that can often lead to rooms being empty. Now, hotels do largely oversell, but not as aggressively as airlines, so there’s no doubt that people canceling last minute can be costly for hotels. However, many people also pay a premium to book flexible rates, so they’re paying for that flexibility.

When Marriott announced this change I fully expected that their competitors would follow, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening. While it hasn’t been implemented yet, LoyaltyLobby reports that as of July 31, 2017, Hilton will be updating their cancelation policy to require guests on flexible rates to cancel 48-72 hours out, depending on the location.

As a general policy, most Hiltons presently require you to cancel one day prior to arrival.

This new policy will be mandatory for Hilton managed properties, though franchised properties will be eligible to opt out, if they so choose. Hilton hasn’t yet updated their reservations system to reflect this change, though I expect that to happen soon. What’s not clear yet is if this will only apply to North American properties for now, or if it will be implemented globally.

At some point you’ve gotta wonder if the hotel chains will eventually introduce “super flexible” rates, which would be more expensive but come with more flexible terms. In the hotel industry, flexible rates are typically only marginally more expensive than advance purchase rates, while in the airline industry the premium for flexible tickets is usually huge.

Oh well…

  1. Too bad, because I use Hilton’s open cancellation policy to take advantage of better last minute rates as other folks cancel the day before my arrival, sometimes earlier. I can regularly shave up to about 20% the price by cancelling and rebooking this way. I’ve cancelled and rebooked as many as 3 or 4 times in the days leading up to a stay, taking a few bucks off each time. Leaves me more money for beer.

  2. This is a big deal, and might lead me to only book a Hilton when it’s last minute and I’m sure I’ll be staying there. Regardless, I’ve been Diamond with Hilton for years and when I ask nicely for a same day cancellation they have 100% obliged with my request with no penalty. Just something to keep in mind…

  3. “Now, hotels do largely oversell, but not as aggressively as airline,” I’m not sure that’s entirely true…

    To give a bit of context, I work for a ~250 room luxury hotel in NYC. For one of the dates next week, we were -61 rooms at one point. Pretty aggressive if you ask me…

  4. At least with the airlines restrictive fares, if you cancel, the amount paid can be used as a credit towards future travel within a year of the original booking. If you cancel a prepaid hotel stay, you get nothing, If they would change that, perhaps people would feel better about booking prepaid rates, I never feel I can book a prepaid rate unless I absolutely have to be somewhere on the exact dates or if I don’t mind losing my money if plans change.

  5. This is one area where Hilton’s Diamond status actually helps. I’ve been able to cancel day of on several occasions without difficulty by calling the Diamond line. YMMV.

  6. @jonathan How likely are you to get to 0? It seems like walking a guest is typically a pretty expensive penalty.

  7. This is a terrible policy. I figured the other hotels would follow after Marriott did this. It is really annoying. They must be doing it, because I’ve found that hotels frequently lower their prices at times a day or two before check in. So this way you can’t rebook at the lower rate.

  8. the 24 hour cancellation policy was pretty much the only reason I sometimes book with Hilton. bye Hilton.

  9. Let’s just wait until the policy change is announced and we see the actual terms and conditions. Until then, it makes little sense to hyperventilate. What’s more, such a change will affect different people differently depending on individual travel/lodging patterns. I seldom cancel my bookings, although I would often rebook if there if there’s been a significant rate drop before a stay, but seldom within 72h. By contrast, there are frequent sales, like the current CHINA SUMMER SALE that’s offering discounted rates of up 40%, that can have highly restrictive terms:

    “If you cancel for any reason, attempt to modify this reservation, or do not arrive on your specified check-in date, your payment is non-refundable”

    I just booked three such restrictive stays in Mainland China and Hong Kong for my 2017 Year-end Asian Escapde(tm) because they get me infinitely better value than redeeming points. In fact, looking at the my 10 upcoming and already booked stays until January 2018, I see mostly the this for flexible cash or award rates:

    — “If you wish to cancel, please do so 1 day prior to arrival to avoid cancellation penalties. ”

    but also

    — “If you wish to cancel, please do so 2 days prior to arrival to avoid cancellation penalties” at Hilton Lima Miraflores [cash]


    — “If you wish to cancel, please do so 7 days prior to arrival to avoid cancellation penalties” at Hilton Pattaya [award].

    As is clear, there is already quite a bit variability in cancellation policy depending on location and/or property. That, coupled with the possibility that “the new policy will be mandatory for Hilton managed properties” suggests that the change, if enacted, might not be seismic…

  10. Another reason to use corp rates you find. Typically they allow cancellation up to check in time.

  11. And yet again, DCS finds a way to delude himself into thinking that a customer-unfriendly change is actually a good thing.

  12. DCS, are you an intern at a PR or Crisis Management firm? Or perhaps a spokes-hole in training. What an insufferable loser you must be outside of work. Some existences just aren’t worth living in my opinion. Do us a favor and invest in an exit bag.

  13. I have an expired CC number in my profile when i book a room. so i never have to worry about those charges. try it….

  14. @Mike & @Steve — You would not know a rational analysis of a situation even if it hit you in the face. If you have anything specific you wish to challenge in my evidence-based analysis then spell it out, keeping in mind, as I did, that the purported “customer-unfriendly change” has not even yet been announced.

    One of these days you’ll learn that you will be a lot happier when you do not always and reflexively expect to be screwed by changes in loyalty programs. However, before you can reach that level of edification, you’ll need to enter a detox program to undo the effects of the brainwashing you’ve been subjected to by self-anointed travel gurus who thrive by peddling “wisdom” based on bogus and self-serving standards.

  15. @Steve / Mike – just picture Donald Trump posting as DCS and it all becomes so much more clear.
    – Everyone else is stupid and SAD
    – His stuff is the best, just TERRIFFIC
    – All other non-Hilton programs are TERRIBLE
    – The “experts” are a bunch of idiots, their expertise and data points be damned, just FAKE NEWS
    – He likes going to foreign countries w/ a subservient population, as they make him feel better about himself, THEY REALLY LIKE ME

  16. OMAAT was so much quieter when Ben wasn’t posting as many articles about Hilton — I’d say I missed the presence of DCS here, but honestly, I didn’t (and I know I’m not alone on that one). But now that we are graced with a Hilton article and the usual from DCS, the usual pattern of his continues:

    1) He presents something he likes to call “analysis,” but it’s really self-selected examples that he claims try and prove his point (but really don’t). In this instance, he’s cherry-picked three hotels’ refundable rates to try and prove some sort of point about how going to 3 days isn’t a bad thing.

    Of course, he’s actually worse off under two of those examples (going to 3 days from 1 and 2 days, respectively). For him, that might not be a bad thing now, but let’s hope that he doesn’t have a last-minute change in plans that forces him to cancel.

    The third example — a 7-day cancel on an award ticket — is nothing more than an outlier. The vast majority of Hilton family properties have a cancel window that is considerably shorter — some still as late as 6pm on the day of departure — that allow for considerably more flexibility than a 3-day window. The bulk of them are at 24 hours at this point, but for people who need to be flexible, changing it to 72 hours eliminates some of that flexibility, which cannot be described for those people as anything other than a negative.

    2) What is also usual about DCS’s posts here, as is shown very well here, is his inability to allow anyone to post something that remotely disagrees with him. His reaction is typical of someone with narcissistic personality disorder — the disagreement is perceived as narcissistic injury (the mere act of disagreeing with that person is perceived as a personal attack or insult) and is returned in kind with narcissistic rage (the insults that are levied upon the target, such as the insinuations that anyone who disagrees with him is too stupid to exist).

    I still, to a point, feel pity for DCS, because I can’t imagine living my life like that.

  17. And now he is going to disturb that “peace” by posting his interminably long and fact-free polemical comments. No, thanks, I won’t embarrass you yet again…

    All I did was to provide a reasoned perspective on the topic of the post, which one is free to appreciate or not. The last thing I intended to do was to bring the unhinged elements out of the woodwork.

    I am out of here (without reading but the first line of the preceding comment). Knock yourselves out.

  18. @DCS: “No, thanks, I won’t embarrass you yet again…”

    The only person who should be embarrassed is you.

  19. Just another terrible news!
    Marriott had implemented the cancellation policy as well as Starwood in Europe and Turkey with immediate effect last month not only in North America.
    We wonder why Hilton does not copy Marriott good policy for example the rollover stays to next year only imitate the customer unfriendly policy whatever to make another buck.

  20. Ouch! Thought we would not have this type of collusion. I thought the one day advance was already enough, but now there is no such booking as flexible.

    But I guess within a year we will see the “Super-Flex rate”, where one pays more to bypass the advance days. My oh my.

  21. Can anyone verify with the current 1 day out cancellation policy, when is the cutoff….is it on the calendar day so say up to midnight (where the hotel is located) the day before? 24 hours from the official check in time (2-3 pm)? Just wondering how they calculate the DAY and if folks have had issues/problems trying to cancel when the website says you cant because you are inside the window.

    Also, on a side but related note just as an FYI…I was under the impression and belief that the advance purchase rates were always going to be the lowest on Hilton’s site. But I later found that a certain rate went down later on for a reservation. I contacted HH to inquire of the policy and they said that rates could indeed go down and that it was up to the hotel to make any (possible) adjustments. In my case, the amount was minimal and I wasn’t too concerned and the hotel did adjust the rate for me. But it’s something to keep in mind when considering these AP rates.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *