Marriott Changing Global Cancellation Policy

Via Travel Update, it looks like Marriott will be changing their global hotel cancellation policy as of January 1, 2015.

Marriott-GRU-Airport
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport

According to the new policy, you’ll have until 11:59PM the day prior to arrival to cancel your room without penalty. Interestingly it seems as if Marriott is somewhat forcing this policy on their hotels:

Marriott expects that “most hotels will want to follow the new policy,” according to the email. Marriott, in fact, is telling franchised hotels that if they want to opt out of the new policy and continue offering a “day of arrival” cancellation deadline, they must request permission to do so.

So is this good news or bad news? Well, it probably depends on the property:

  • It’s bad news for hotels that currently let you cancel until the afternoon/evening day of arrival to avoid penalty
  • It’s good news for hotels that require you to cancel at least one day prior to arrival to avoid penalty

Via Travel Update, it seems like this will be bad news if you’re staying at ~75% of properties, while it will be good news if you’re staying at ~25% of properties:

In response to Travel Update’s questions to Marriott about the policy change, Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore said that about 25% “of our managed hotels in the Americas have a cancellation policy that is more aggressive than 6pm day of arrival.” So in many markets, she said, the new policy will put Marriott “in line with our competitors.”

I pulled up the cancellation policy at three of Marriott’s properties near LAX for the night of January 17, 2015.

The Renaissance LAX lets you cancel until 4PM day of arrival:

Marriott-Cancellation-Policy-1

The Marriott LAX lets you cancel until 6PM day of arrival:

Marriott-Cancellation-Policy-3

Meanwhile the Courtyard LAX lets you cancel until one day prior to arrival:

Marriott-Cancellation-Policy-2

As someone that has a tendency to plan hotel stays really last minute, I find this to be rather frustrating… though I also get it.

If a guest cancels the evening of arrival it’s really tough to resell that room, while if they cancel the evening before there’s at least a chance of reselling the room. I’m curious to see if Marriott makes exceptions for:

  • Airport hotels, where I think a day of arrival cancellation policy is only fair in many cases (and airport hotels also oversell by a lot, so I doubt there’s much lost revenue)
  • Corporate rates (for big corporate customers of the hotel chain, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to negotiate a more generous cancellation policy into the contract)

What do you think about this change — good or bad news?

Comments

  1. I think this is a net negative change. I’ve had several flights this year that have been late to the point of missed connections, that required an unplanned overnight in the connecting city. Cancellation by 6pm on day of arrival was never refused when I called the central Marriott reservations line to explain – but this policy would have cost me multiple nights in Marriott hotels.

  2. I certainly prefer 4pm or 6pm day of arrival cancellation policies – especially if your plans are in flux.

    Other than in resort areas that are hard to get to, I’m not sure that good revenue management can’t accomplish the same thing as the earlier cancellation deadline. If a city or area has high demand, then the hotel can still fill the room, generally at rack rate. It’s really only during a period of low demand when the hotel won’t be full anyway that the earlier cancellation deadline comes into play.

    I wonder if they are doing this so that the can more easily discount empty rooms on the day of arrival without have to reset the rates of anyone who booked ahead of time.

  3. This is certainly bad news — not sure there are any positives, especially since this will change a policy at 3/4 of all their hotels.

    While in a perfect world you’d always want to cancel ahead of time, it’s not always possible like Carl mentioned.

    Would also be interesting to see if discounted rates (e.g. AAA) will have a more generous policy.

  4. I have chosen Marriott explicitly because of the date of arrival cancellation policy many many times. When comparing with Hilton (for example) that required day before, and with the unpredictability of travel, it was always an easy choice.

    Dumb.

    Maybe they’ll ask us to tip the housekeeper in advance next.

  5. Just one more lousy bit of frequent traveler news. I too have chosen Marriott many times because of the day before arrival cancellation policy of Hilton, Starwood etc. Marriott now goes from best to worst cancel policy in most instances. Nice job bean counters.

    For business travelers, whose schedules are always subject to the whims of clients and airlines, this is lousy news.

    Will there ever be one bit of good news for frequent travelers again? Ever?

  6. It’s interesting that Marriott aspires to be “in line with our competitors.” You would think they would want to differentiate themselves.

    I guess if I have any doubt about making a night then Marriott is no longer an option. My plans are too subject to change for this to be acceptable.

  7. Rolo – We’ll get good travel news again when the economy worsens, and sends the hotels/airlines back to having more empty rooms/seats. Then our business will be important to them again.

  8. I have been told by a Marriott employee that the clock used for the cancellation is GMT (not EST, etc). Hence, this likely avoids issues with people cancelling online by the deadline but still getting charged.

  9. They have to use local time in the time zone in which the property is located. Too much confusion in every other case.

  10. I think this will reduce overbooking. They don’t have to overbook as much to compensate from a no show since they will be able to charge the last minute no show and recover that cost. Essentially if they are 100 pct full the night before they have locked in the revenue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *