The “New” Marriott Cancellation Policy is Not New — Just Expanded

“E ffective today (June 15, 2017), new last-minute cancellation policies are going into effect at Marriott/Starwood hotels”, according to this article written by Chris McGinnis of TravelSkills. “In order to avoid paying for that first night (including taxes and fees), you now have to cancel a full 48 hours (or more, depending on property) in advance.”

The “New” Marriott Cancellation Policy is Not New — Just Expanded

Actually, this “new” cancellation policy implemented by Marriott International, Incorporated is not new. In this article back on Friday, February 27, 2017, I strongly advised that you check your hotel reservations, as the cancellation policy may have changed, as “the cancellation policies of a number of hotel and resort properties of Marriott International, Incorporated have quietly changed from canceling a hotel reservation 24 hours prior to checking in without paying a penalty to a minimum of 48 hours — and with no advance notice or announcement — in certain locations” with a few select locations opting for a minimum of 72 hours.

If you are thinking of escaping to Hilton or Hyatt, good luck, as cancellation policies are similar at certain hotel and resort properties.

Stricter policies for canceling lodging reservations arguably became effective as of Thursday, January 15, 2015, when you must cancel a reservation as of 6:00 in the evening local time of the hotel property on the day before arrival at many hotel and resort properties worldwide of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, and Marriott International, Incorporated. The previous cancellation policy was typically at 6:00 in the evening at the latest on the same day of arrival.

Official Statement From Marriott

Here is the official statement from Marriott International, Incorporated pertaining to the “new” cancellation policy:

Marriott International is implementing a cancellation policy at hotels in the Americas including the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, across all brands except for Design Hotels. The revised policy allows us to make rooms available to guests that would have otherwise gone unoccupied due to a last-minute cancellation.

The change: While cancellation policies vary by hotel, hotels whose policy is to allow guests to cancel their room reservations on the day before arrival without incurring a fee are faced with a significant number of unsold rooms due to last minute cancellations. Guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation by midnight 48 hours prior to arrival to avoid a fee. This will allow hotels a better chance to make the rooms available to guests seeking last minute accommodations.

The revised cancellation policy will take effect on June 15, 2017 and applies to reservations made on or after June 15, 2017.

Because cancellation policies vary by hotel and for certain events and rates, customers should always check the cancellation policy that applies at the time of booking. Cancellation information is provided to guests prior to finalizing a reservation on www.Marriott.com. 

Not All Lodging Companies Have Increasingly Restrictive Cancellation Policies — and Not All Hotel Properties, Either

The cancellation policy for my stay at the Delta Hotels Banff Royal Canadian Lodge — which is part of Marriott International, Incorporated — was two days prior to arrival…

…but according to my recent hotel reservations booked with InterContinental Hotels Group, the cancellation policy is still at 6:00 in the evening local hotel time on the day of arrival. However — given that IHG Rewards Club joined the frequent guest loyalty programs of other lodging companies last year in instituting the expiration of points after twelve months — I personally would not count on this lenient cancellation policy continuing for the long term unless InterContinental Hotels Group wants to use this cancellation policy as a differentiator when compared to competitors in the lodging industry.

With my recent reservations booked with Hilton, the cancellation policies were different: at one hotel property, I was required to cancel at 11:59 in the evening on the day before arrival if I did not want to pay a penalty; while at another hotel property, the requirement was to cancel at 4:00 in the afternoon on the day of arrival…

…which actually can confuse consumers when different hotel and resort properties of the same lodging company can set their own cancellation policies; so again: carefully check the cancellation policies of any lodging option which you book to reserve for a future stay.

Summary

My experience with hotel properties is that if I ever needed to cancel a reservation beyond the deadline — which is highly unusual for me — I have never had to pay a penalty. I usually had a good reason — such as a canceled or delayed flight — and the representative had always been understanding and accommodating. That is not to say that that would be the scenario moving forward nor would I expect that level of service; but as long as lodging companies empower their employees with the ability to implement logical decisions, I generally do not expect this “unwritten policy” to change.

The main reason behind the implementation of stricter cancellation policies is because when a potential guest cancels a reservation at the last minute, the room reserved for that guest might remain unsold. That would be unfair to management of the hotel property — especially if demand was high and the hotel property might have otherwise been sold out…

…and what if more than one guest cancelled at the last minute at the same hotel property? What if someone else could have used that room but was denied the ability to book the reservation — only to have that room possibly unused due to a cancellation at the last minute?

Due primarily to that reasoning, I initially believed that the policy of cancellation by 6:00 in the evening local time of the hotel property on the day before arrival was justified and not unreasonable to the consumer — especially if employees of the lodging company are empowered to override this policy on a case-by-case basis as necessary. If most guests will know to cancel on the day before arrival, that suggests to me that any abuse of the policy moving forward will be few and far between, which to me further suggests that pleading for leniency will likely continue to be successful — especially if you are a regular customer of the lodging company or hotel property…

…but does a cancellation policy of 72 hours prior to arrival increase the chances of guests being able to secure rooms at the last minute — or is it an attempt at a “money grab” in which lodging companies can theoretically get paid revenue for the same room multiple times in one night?

Even worse: could the restrictive cancellation policy eventually be expanded in the future to five days or a week — or more?

The Delta Hotels Banff Royal Canadian Lodge is a hotel property which is part of the vast worldwide portfolio of hotel and resort properties of Marriott International, Incorporated. Please read this review of the Delta Hotels Banff Royal Canadian Lodge. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “The “New” Marriott Cancellation Policy is Not New — Just Expanded”

  1. Carl P says:

    The company I work for has a policy of not reimbursing for cancellation charges (unless their change caused it I would guess). So I generally I avoid any properties with that much notice required, I am generally at properties that allow cancellation until 6PM same day.

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