No one wants to get walked from a hotel, meaning that a hotel is sold out and is denying you your booked room or suite. While the hotel should find you alternative accommodation nearby, it may not be of the same quality, and it won't be the same room type. The reason the hotel is walking you could run the gamut from some existing guests extending their stay to a group or delegation taking more rooms than anticipated to a room needing urgent repairs. Whatever the reason is, here's how to prevent being walked in the first place.
1. Reserve Hotels with Preferred Partner Programs That Specifically State You Won't Be Walked
Our TravelSort Clients don't have to worry about being walked at the luxury hotels we reserve for them with the following preferred partner programs, which include a no-walk policy in the contract:
- Anantara Hotels (Anantara Journeys)
- Langham Hotels (Couture by Langham)
- Dorchester Hotels (Dorchester Diamond Club)
- InterContinental Hotels (IHG Luxury & Lifestyle)
- Marriott STARS (includes Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bulgari, St. Regis, EDITION, The Luxury Collection)
- Noble House Hotels (Noble Advisor)
- Rocco Forte Hotels (Rocco Forte Knights)
- Rosewood Hotels (Rosewood Elite)
- Shangri-La Hotels (Shangri-La Luxury Circle)
- Viceroy Hotels (The Guild)
While the above hotel preferred partner programs have explicit guarantees to not walk clients, in our many years of reserving luxury hotels and resorts worldwide for clients, we've never had any of our preferred partner clients walked to another property.
2. For Cheaper Hotels, Reserve Directly With the Hotel and Add Your Loyalty Number
For non-luxury hotels that aren't booked with our preferred partner benefits, there's a higher chance of being walked. Reduce the risk by reserving directly with the hotel (not an OTA such as Expedia, Booking.com, etc.) and if the hotel is part of a brand, be sure to add your loyalty number.
3. Arriving Late? Confirm This in Writing With the Hotel When Making the Reservation
In a sold out situation, you're more at risk when arriving late in the evening, after most guests have already checked in. Be sure to put this in the notes when making the reservation, and also email the hotel to confirm that your room or suite will be kept for late arrival. It's always better to have a paper trail rather than rely on a phone call, and you don't want the hotel to mark you as a no show and give away your room before you get there.
If You're Walked by a Hotel
If you haven't followed the above advice and a hotel is walking you, politely and firmly insist on a hotel and room of comparable quality (although options may be limited, since if your hotel is overbooked due to a major event, chances are that other hotels in the area may be as well). As with airlines' irregular operations, you'll want to do your own searching and proactively suggest solutions that work for you, rather than rely on the hotel (which has already failed you once) to have your best interests at heart. If your rate included breakfast, hotel credit, or other extras, be sure to negotiate their inclusion at the new hotel you stay at.
Some Hotels Will Compensate Top-Tier Elites for the Inconvenience of Walking
Marriott Silver Elite members and higher, in addition to receiving accommodation at a nearby hotel, receive $200 and 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points if walked from EDITION, Luxury Collection, W Hotels, JW Marriott, Marriott, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, and Gaylord Hotels. For lower category Marriott brands such as Courtyard, Four Points, Fairfield by Marriott, Springhill Suites, Protea Hotels, AC Hotels, Aloft, Moxy, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element, compensation is only $100, except for Platinum and Titanium Elites, who also receive 90,000 Bonvoy points. And for Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and St. Regis hotels, only Platinum and Titanium Elites receive compensation: $200 + 140,000 points if they're walked.
In all of the above cases, Marriott's guarantee compensation is only available if the member number was provided at the time of booking and the reservation was made by the member or travel advisor directly with Marriott.
Since most hotels are franchised and not owned by the brand, if a hotel isn't providing compensation where its policy states it's due, don't hesitate to contact the brand's corporate office and and tweet your request. And if a hotel doesn't provide acceptable alternative accommodation and is dragging its feet when it comes to a refund of a deposit, file a credit card chargeback.
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