What to Do if a Hotel Cancels a Confirmed Reservation in Advance

What to Do if a Hotel Cancels a Confirmed Reservation in Advance

 

I've Written About Can a Hotel Cancel Your Confirmed Reservation, which focused on hotels that overbook or otherwise denies you your confirmed hotel reservation at check-in. What about if a hotel cancels your confirmed reservation in advance? Does the fact that the hotel is canceling your reservation in advance (presumably without charging you anything, and refunding any prepaid deposit) absolve the hotel of any further responsibility?

What if you need to stay at the hotel you reserved for specific reasons, or at least in that area, yet comparable hotels in that area are now sold out, or at least much more expensive? Here's an email I received about a stay coming up in the next several weeks, booked over 9 months ago:

“I am writing to check with you if we can request you for alternative date for your accommodation at [hotel] , our promoters have a wedding in the family and need more than 400 rooms in the city including the maximum rooms at [hotel].

We are booked to capacity between [dates] and hence were wanting to check with you [on alternative dates] as we will not be able to accommodate your booking on the requested dates.”

Hotel No Walk Policies 

Chain hotel no walk policies such as Marriott's Ultimate Reservation Guarantee for elite members generally apply for day-of situations, where the hotel is overbooked and pays for accommodation at a nearby hotel, as well as compensation for the inconvenience.

You don't have to have hotel elite status, however, to better protect yourself against having your confirmed reservation cancelled. Several luxury hotels prioritize their preferred partner reservations both for day-of and advance reservations. While it's always possible that a fire or natural disaster could render the property uninhabitable (for example the  Mandarin Oriental London fire earlier this year, which meant all existing guests had to be relocated to other London hotels) these policies make it highly unlikely your confirmed reservation will be cancelled if it's within the hotel's power to honor it:

Be sure to reserve as a TravelSort Client, or with a luxury travel advisor who is a member of the relevant preferred partner program, to enjoy this protection against having your confirmed reservation cancelled.

 

Hotels That Cancel Your Reservation Due to Not Opening on Schedule

Hotel openings are tricky to manage, particularly in more remote areas where it's harder to get the necessary materials, there's limited skilled labor, or there are other challenging conditions. Certain hotels tend to be better at managing opening dates than others; to date, I've never had a situation where a client booked a Four Seasons and the opening was delayed, since Four Seasons usually is quite conservative when opening the booking calendar for new properties.

The Park Hyatt St. Kitts had several delays for its opening, and compensated those whose reservations the hotel cancelled in a few different ways, either paying for alternative accommodation (sometimes the Four Seasons Nevis), or reimbursing up to $1000 per person in airfare change/cancellation fees for those who needed to cancel or reschedule, and offering two complimentary nights (except for festive season) for those who rebooked.

 

Hotels That Cancel Your Reservation Due to a a More Lucrative Offer or Large Group Buyout of the Hotel

Unfortunately some hotels, after taking individual reservations, later agree to a group buyout or a more lucrative offer for those rooms. Take this FlyerTalk example of the Sheraton Pasadena, which claimed that a “system error” meant that reservations that coincided with a New Year's stay and Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1 had to be cancelled by the hotel as the hotel was sold out. In fact, the hotel sold its rooms, for a much higher rate, to the Tournament of Roses to be resold as pricey packages. Although several Flyertalkers were affected, none of them received anything approaching fair compensation, even after appealing to Starwood Corporate.

Another Flyertalker had a happier outcome with the Westin Phoenix booked for the Super Bowl, which initially cancelled her existing reservation, ostensibly due a contract with the NFL. Fortunately, when the property's GM got involved, he honored the guest's pre-existing reservation.

 

Asking for Compensation for a Cancelled Reservation

Particularly for more remote hotels, and when your reservation was made many months ago, it's appropriate to ask for more than a refund of any deposit paid, even when the hotel cancels your reservation in advance. After all, you may have spent thousands of dollars on non-refundable airfare and invested significant time in putting together a honeymoon, anniversary, or special family trip, which the cancellation now throws into disarray.

If you've made your reservation with TravelSort, we'll liaise directly with the hotel on your behalf, escalating if necessary to the hotel's General Manager.

If you're making the trip to the destination regardless:

  • Find comparable hotels or resorts that have availability for your dates, and ask the hotel to pick up the tab for your stay at one of these comparable hotels
  • If the available hotels are less luxurious and less expensive, request additional compensation, since you'll be taking a step down staying at one of these alternative properties

If nothing is comparable to the property and you now won't make the trip at all:

  • Ask the hotel to compensate you for airline change/cancellation fees, and for a couple complimentary nights or a significantly discounted rate for a future visit
  • If you'll never be returning to the destination the hotel is in, ask for complimentary nights at another hotel in the same group or chain. This could be harder to negotiate, as hotels are generally not owned by the chain; they have individual owners, and pay a management fee to an operator, such as Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, etc.

If the hotel is in the U.S., it may be possible to pursue a remedy in Small Claims Court, although for many people that's not practical as the hotel is in a different location than where they live, and in any case, their time could easily be worth more than it would take to pursue a claim in Small Claims Court.

Has a hotel ever cancelled your reservation? If so, what was the explanation, and what did you do?

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