“Hopefully sometime in the second half of the year we will layer incremental opportunities on top of that that will start to bifurcate … creating fully flexible and semi-flexible pricing structures that would require a cancellation within seven days.”
A Seven Day Cancellation Policy?
What you just read is a quote by Christopher Nassetta — who is the chief executive officer of Hilton — as attributed in this article written by Deanna Ting for Skift as “some other things” that “we have been testing.”
“At this moment there are no changes for our guests, but we have proposed an update to our policy guidance for hotels in the United States and Canada effective at the end of the month. We have proposed updating the default house cancellation policy to 48-hours (72-hours in select locations) for our managed properties and have suggested the same for franchised hotels (this decision will be made at the property level for franchise properties). As always, the cancellation policy associated with any reservation is made clear to our guests throughout the booking process and in the confirmation emails they receive.
“Our goal is to provide exceptional experiences: every hotel, every guest, every time. We regularly review guest booking and cancellation patterns across our 5,000+ properties, and have seen cancellation rates rise the last few years. These insights have led to the proposed update, which will allow us to maximize the number of available rooms for guests seeking accommodation. Both guests and hotel owners will benefit from rooms that would previously have gone unused.”
“If you’re having to cancel within a week (going with the even worse policy), why not re-sell your reservation (by adding someone else’s name to it)?” FlyerTalk member GrayAndersonasked. “I see a business opportunity (albeit fraught with issues) for someone in the Airbnb/Hotwire field (since if I’m going to be out, say, $150 why shouldn’t I just sell the room to someone actually going to where I am for $75 and call it a day?).”
Reactions from other FlyerTalk members were no more welcoming to the thought of a possible new cancellation policy. “A week is absurd, 48 hours is absurd”, FlyerTalk member jamesterohopined. “If they are going to require a week cancel then they should do what amazon does with a prerelease purchase and if the rate goes down between the time of booking and the time you arrive they have to honor the lowest rate.”
FlyerTalk member uncertaintravelerbelieves “that such a policy would cause inventory management problems for hotels, but if Hilton wants to be so customer unfriendly, then why should I care about their potential problems?”
Perhaps I am reading the quote incorrectly; but in my opinion, the key word in the statement attributed to Christopher Nassetta is within — which technically means that the cancellation would be permitted without penalty “within seven days” and not a minimum of seven days.
I also interpreted that statement that other options will also be available in the name of flexibility. Could that mean rates which are not as low and as restrictive as advance purchase rates but not as high as fully flexible rates — similar to the complex systems of airfares which airlines employ?
Whether the new 48-hour cancellation policy is working for Hilton or its customers is still too early to tell at this time, as it only started exactly one month ago; but I am for any policy which benefits both the company and its customers…
…but I would caution Hilton or any other lodging company about policies which are too restrictive to customers — as well as being too complex with the options offered to customers in the name of flexibility.