by Lisa Stephens, Director - Travel and Transport's Partner Solutions Group
Most major hotel companies have implemented stronger advance cancellation policies in the past year. Instead of the day of arrival or 6:00 p.m. cancellations, travelers are being held to 24, 48 and 72 hour mandatory cancellation policies.
There seem to be a couple of reasons why hotels have implemented longer cancellation policies:
- Hotel brands convey that this strategy is good for the corporate traveler; they are merely trying to open up inventory because travelers double and triple book themselves into hotels and don’t cancel. By way of implementing a stricter cancellation policy, this errant behavior will entice double and triple bookers to cancel in advance or stick to the booking they truly intend to keep.
- Hotels carry a high risk of perishable hotel product that goes unsold leaving the hotel to hold rooms and turn away paying travelers, therefore losing revenues.
These are logical reasons. Hotels need to make money. Hotels need to be able to manage their perishable inventory, but at what cost to their relationship with travel buyers? The biggest issue is that brands have implemented a standard advance cancellation policy without a consistent and standard waiver policy.
In recent months, corporate buyers and travel management companies have spent increased time and effort reaching out to “plead their case” to brand global sales, corporate customer service teams and hotel staff to try and get waivers on cancellations for instances that occur naturally in business travel due to reasons beyond their control. Sometimes they're successful. Sometimes they're not.
Flights get cancelled. Trips get changed. Business moves and changes at a fast pace, even within 72 and 48 hours. Hoteliers manage nuances for all types of travel. Managed corporate travel has and will always have the need for standard waiver policies. Without it they are creating an environment of friction that is not positive for either party. They're unintentionally building an unhealthy relationship instead of what could become a greater focus on service.
Enter Hyatt. During Winter Storm Grayson, Hyatt proactively communicated that impacted hotels were waiving their cancellation penalty for a similar period to which the airlines offered flight waivers.
Clever, huh? We thought it was brilliant.
Armed with this information, Travel and Transport was able to issue an alert to emergency travel counselors and customers to let them know of the waiver. Travel buyers could rest easy in knowing that the room they had to cancel due to the bombogenesis event would not cost them.
Well done, Hyatt. On behalf of our mutual customers, we thank you.