Travel Scenario #2: Overbooked Hotel
Brad Phillips and his fiancée scoured destinations around the world with their ideal retreat in mind: a small, quiet resort getaway. Six months before their wedding date, Brad received confirmation for his stay at a Punta Cana hotel and planned special activities to share with his future wife. Little did he know that their dream honeymoon would be canceled at the last minute.
“On Friday morning — the day before our wedding and just three days before our scheduled departure — I received an email from our resort informing us they had overbooked the property and were unable to honor our reservation,” Brad says. “They offered us a room at another property — a sprawling complex with 176 rooms. This resort was more than triple the size of the original and was precisely the type of place we didn’t want to go.”
Photo credit: Pexels
How to avoid it:
According to Cornell University’s Hospitality Blog, overbooking is a common industry practice. Like airlines, resorts assume that a certain percentage of reservations will ultimately be modified or canceled and use a specific overbooking-ratio method to determine how many rooms to oversell.
Usually, this ratio is spot-on and all guests who arrive at a hotel can be accommodated, but occasionally (particularly during unusually busy times) you can be left without a room. Always guarantee your room with a credit card to ensure you have the most rights if an overbooking occurs.
What to do if it happens:
Unlike airlines, hotels are not legally required to compensate you for an overbooking and few have a written policy on how to handle these events. However, there is a standard practice called “walking." If the hotel is unable to accommodate you, they will often book your stay at a hotel of equal or greater value and cover the cost of your first night.
If they are unable to secure you a room in their hotel for the duration of your stay, most hotels will pay the difference between the two room rates. Huffington Post reports the best way to avoid being “walked” is to do your best to arrive at your hotel early and join loyalty programs.
If you are unhappy with the presented alternatives, let the hotel representative know that you have other preferences. Negotiate alternatives and upgrades, and always get them in writing.
In the event they are unable to honor your requests, begin the search yourself. Forgo online bookings and call each resort at a local number instead. Last-minute cancellations may not have posted yet and managers would be happy to accommodate you if rooms are available.
Photo credit: Pexels
The groom's advice:
“Remember that it’s just a vacation,” Brad says.