Pay More to Stay or Leave After Hotel Changes Brands
What would you do if during a stay of eleven days — with which you paid using frequent guest loyalty program points — the hotel property changes brands and management informs you on the sixth or seventh day that either you must pay for the remainder of your stay or leave without finding you a new hotel property at which to stay?
Pay More to Stay or Leave After Hotel Changes Brands
This is the dilemma which FlyerTalk fadippides member faced while staying at a Category 1 hotel property which was not particularly desirable, with such issues as mold in the bathroom and worn carpets.
After receiving a note under the door to the room which notified fadippides of the brand of the hotel property switching from a Fairfield Inn to a Holiday Inn on the following day, fadippides talked to an employee at the front desk, who…
…assured me that since I had already paid with points, I was fine and it would not impact me. Upon getting back to the hotel the next day after work, I was told by the new front desk staff that I either had to pay for the rest of the nights or leave the hotel. I wasn’t paying twice for the same room so I had to haul my belongings out to my truck and proceeded to call the Marriott number to seek assistance.
After about 45 minutes on hold, I got through to a CSR explained the situation and was put on hold for about another 15 minutes for a manager. When I talked to the manager, he said that shouldn’t have happened and he would refund me the unused nights. I explained that I am in a parking lot with no place to stay and was informed he had refunded the unused points and that was all he could do. After about 30 minutes of arguing with him, I had finally convinced him that he needed to get me a room somewhere. He finally got me a room about 15-20 minutes away and made the points balance out (the new hotel was category 2).
After having several issues resolved in the room and settling in at the new hotel property, fadippides contacted Marriott International, Incorporated to express displeasure at how this situation was handled. A response was received the next day which informed fadippides that the issue was passed on to the customer service team, with an official response to be expected within five business days…
…but three weeks have since elapsed; and fadippides still has not received a response.
Walking is the practice of management of a hotel or resort property who informs a guest that he or she cannot stay there for a variety of reasons — usually because no vacant rooms are available — and provides accommodations at a nearby hotel or resort property of at least comparable value. This is a common practice in the lodging industry.
Reflagging is when a hotel or resort property switches brands — whether or not both brands are a part of the portfolio of the same lodging company. Reflagging can happen for a variety of reasons — such as when a hotel property is sold by one company to another; or if a hotel property conforms more to one brand than to another and reflagging is less expensive than ramping the hotel property up to the standards of a brand.
When fadippides had requested from the manager of the hotel property to invoke the Marriott Ultimate Reservation Guarantee for essentially being “walked”, he replied that because the hotel property had converted to a Holiday Inn that the guarantee no longer applies.
Customers are usually notified well in advance of when a hotel or resort property is reflagged; and they are usually given equitable options which they may exercise prior to the change of brands. That fadippides was supposedly not notified of the reflagging of the hotel property well in advance is inexcusable.
The bulk of the fault lies with management of the hotel property in question, in my opinion. Taking steps to have avoided this situation would have been fairly easy; and management failed to be proactive in preventing this from happening.
I have been walked from hotel properties in the past during my travels; but this is the first time I have heard of a guest being walked from a hotel property during a stay. Once, I was walked to a better hotel property on Long Island in New York for no extra charge and some benefits were thrown in free of charge. That experience was acceptable for me; and I was satisfied with the result.
Remember that you have rights as a consumer. If you are walked from a hotel or resort property for any reason, a room at an equally or better hotel or resort property located nearby should already have been arranged for you; and paid transportation should be provided for transferring you to the other hotel or resort property if you do not have a car with you. If not, you are entitled to at least a refund — usually with some form of compensation for the unnecessary trouble with which you endured. That compensation can be in the form of an upgrade, bonus points, or a voucher good for at least one free day during your next stay; and you should agree to the compensation which you prefer the most…
…and if you have already paid for the room in advance — whether you used points or cash or a combination thereof — and you can provide proof of that, you have a right to stay there. Period. End of story.
As for fadippides, the issue still has not been completely resolved at the time this article was written.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.