Well this is disappointing. Marriott seems to have quietly instituted a new 72 hour cancelation policy for all North American properties, effective immediately. This includes all 30+ Marriott and Starwood brands. I don’t see any official announcement about this, though the new policy is reflected when searching rates. In looking up hotel rates I’m seeing the new 72 hour rule mostly across the board at Marriott family properties in North America.
The same is mostly true for Starwood, though I’m seeing some hotels with a two day policy. I’m not sure if this is intentional, or if these hotels just haven’t fully updated their systems yet. For what it’s worth, these are mostly hotels that previously had a one day policy, so maybe they’re not going quite as strict at all hotels (though even a two day policy is restrictive, in my opinion).
It’s no surprise to see this trend in the hotel industry in general. Allowing people to cancel up until the day of arrival potentially costs hotels quite a bit of revenue. While they can forecast pretty well how many people usually cancel last minute, it’s a tricky balance between maximizing revenue and not having to “walk” guests when the hotel is oversold.
In late 2014 we last saw most of the major hotel chains adjust their cancelation policies. While different chains have different policies, at the time Marriott changed their policy so that you had until 11:59PM the day before departure to cancel. Prior to that some hotels let you cancel up until the day of arrival, while others required you to cancel up until the day prior.
Marriott implementing a new cancelation policy is a terrible move for customers. More often than not I book hotels within three days of arrival, so not being able to adjust reservations within that timeframe just sucks, plain and simple. I’m not at all happy about this…
(Tip of the hat to @TravelJono)