I published an article a few days ago that spoke about the hotel cancelations in light of the coronavirus. Obviously, this is a very fluid so policies have changed and I wanted to write an updated post.
There’s a ton of uncertainty surrounding, both, domestic and international travel at the moment. In the past 72 hours alone we’ve seen:
- The US ban foreigners who have been in Schengen countries
- Italy close their borders
- India cancel all tourist visas
- Israel require 14 days quarantine
- Qatar Ban entry from 14 countries
…and the list goes on.
Obviously, there are various reasons people don’t want to travel:
- Some people want to limit movement altogether, and want to avoid being in crowded spaces
- Some people are concerned there will be travel restrictions that will prevent them from getting around
- Some people are already facing travel restrictions that prevent them from actually visiting the place where the hotel is located
- Some people are dealing with flight cancelations due to airlines reducing their schedules, making it hard to get to their destination
But one question I’ve received several times is, essentially, what should I expect from hotels when it comes to waiving the usual cancelation policies? This primarily applies to those who booked non-refundable rates, which normally can’t be canceled any time after booking.
A vast majority of airline fares are non-refundable, and as a passenger it almost never makes sense to purchase a refundable fare (unless your company is footing the bill), because generally it’s exponentially more expensive.
However, in the case of hotels, typically there’s a marginal difference to book a refundable rate vs. a non-refundable rate.
MY EXPERIENCE (SO FAR)
I’m finding that many hotels are allowing people to cancel without offering a cash refund. Instead they’re offering guests the opportunity to use what they’ve spent as a credit towards a future stay (typically within a year).
Sadly, it’s been difficult to find all of the hotel policies but here is a list of the cancelation policies for major hotel groups:
- Hilton is allowing all bookings, even non-refundable ones, to be canceled; this is valid for stays through April 30, 2020, when canceling at least 24 hours before scheduled arrival
- Hyatt is waiving cancelation fees in certain regions, and is offering 10K points to anyone who wants to cancel a non-refundable reservation through June 30, 2020 (though if you choose that option you don’t get a refund)
- IHG is allowing all bookings, even non-refundable ones, to be canceled, for stays through April 30, 2020
- Marriott is waiving cancelation fees in certain regions
IF THEY SAY “NO”…JUST WAIT!
I’m also getting some reports from readers who made non-refundable bookings, and are essentially being told to pound sand by the hotel when asking for a refund.
If you find yourself in this situation, and assuming you’re not traveling in a the next few days, just wait.
This situation continues to evolve by the hour. We’ve constantly seen travel companies introduce more generous change policies and I would expect that to continue. Often individual airline and hotel representatives aren’t very empowered to make decisions, so you’re much better off just waiting for an official hotel policy change.
For example, this was true with airlines as well — at first they didn’t waive change fees on previously booked tickets, and then they did. Now global hotel chains are starting to allow cancelations of non-refundable bookings as well, which they didn’t at first.
In general I’m finding that hotels are being reasonably flexible in light of the current situation.
For those people who have non-refundable bookings, I’m finding that many hotels are willing to let you use what you’ve spent for a future stay. That’s certainly not the case across the board, though I’m finding it’s happening at least a good percentage of the time.
If you’ve tried to cancel a hotel stay in light of the current situation, what has been your experience?