Hyatt's New 48 Hour Cancellation Policy Will Take Effect 1/1/18, for new or changed reservations. Hyatt is following Marriott, Starwood and Hilton (see Avoiding Marriott, Starwood and Hilton 2 Day Cancellation Policies) in instituting stricter 2 day default cancellation policies, ostensibly to make more rooms available for travelers seeking rooms close to their travel date.
With the new policy, you'll need to cancel by 48 hours prior to the hotel check-in time, so generally by 3pm hotel time 2 days before arrival. That said, this is a default policy and individual Hyatt hotels can set their own cancellation policy, so you'll need to carefully check the cancellation policy for the hotel you're planning to book.
Unlike Marriott, Starwood and Hilton, Hyatt will give top elites (World of Hyatt Explorist, Globalist and Lifetime Globalist members) the privilege of still being able to cancel until 24 hours prior to arrival without penalty, although only when the hotel's cancellation policy is 48 hours, and excluding Hyatt Residence Club resorts, Miraval resorts and M life resorts. Naturally prepaid/non-refundable rates are also excluded.
In other words, when the hotel has set a longer cancellation period, such as 3 days / 72 hours, World of Hyatt elites will still be bound by the cancellation policy.
It's not surprising that Hyatt is following its mid-tier competitors on this; it can be hard to fill rooms when there are a number of cancellations within 24 hours or arrival, so pushing out the cancellation deadline helps the hotel improve occupancy and revenue management, without having to resort to same day booking sites, that take a huge cut of the room rate. Resort type destinations already have stricter cancellation policies; to take an extreme example, the Park Hyatt Maldives requires cancellation 30 days or more prior to arrival, otherwise the full stay amount is charged.
But the new default policy will mean that Hyatt hotels such as the Park Hyatt New York that currently have a 24 hour cancellation policy will increase to a 48 hour cancellation policy, unless they specifically opt out of the default. Some other Hyatt hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt San Francisco and Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, already have a 72 hour cancellation policy (this seems extreme for an airport hotel) so they already have a 3 day cancellation policy that World of Hyatt elites won't be exempt from.
Will Hyatt's new 48 hour default cancellation policy affect your travel plans?
Become a TravelSort Client and Book 5-Star Hotels with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred Partner Benefits