IHG Brand Standards In Case Of Overbooking / Being Walked

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LoyaltyLobby reader emailed me a question earlier in the week regarding a confirmed reservation at a Holiday Inn and for not having a room / being walked to another hotel.

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In hotel lingo the guest is “being walked” meaning that the hotel is overbooked and some guests need to be accommodated at other hotel(s).

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Why Hotels Overbook?

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The simplest answer is to maximize their revenue. There are guests with flexible reservations that may be canceled up to 6PM on the day of arrival.

  • Some guests may just not arrive due to delays or change in plans and don’t bother cancel their reservations.
  • People with prepaid reservations that are nonchangeable, nonrefundable and noncancelable may just forgo them
  • Guest may have decided to extend their stay and that have lead to an overbooking situation.
  • Some elite guests may have exercised their guaranteed room availability even in oversold situations.

What Hotels Do In Case Of Overbookings?

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Hotels tend to have arrangement with nearby hotel where they can accommodate guests in case of overbooking at preferential rates. They should not accommodate guest in lower quality lodging.

IHG Overbooking Brand Standards:

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DISHONOURED RESERVATIONS

In the event an overbooking occurs due to an unforeseen stay over or any other circumstance, and a room is not available to a guest holding a reservation (prior to 16.00h), or a guaranteed reservation, the hotel must do the following:

The Guest Service Manager or MOD must meet with the guest and:

• Explain the circumstance and reason for the situation (i.e. guest staying over).

• Apologise to the guest and explain what will be done.

• The hotel must arrange and pay for the first night’s accommodations at another InterContinental Hotels Group hotel if available, or at another comparable and convenient lodging facility.

• The hotel also must reimburse the guest for any reasonable expenses incurred by reason of the change, including transportation and the cost of telephone calls to notify family.

• For 16.00h reservations, the hotel must reimburse the guest for the difference, if any, in the first night’s lodging rate, plus tax if the guest arrives by 16.00h.

• For Guaranteed All Night Reservations, the hotel must pay the full cost of the first night’s lodging rate, plus tax, at another InterContinental Hotels Group hotel or at another convenient and comparable hotel.

• If the guest has paid an advance deposit, this must be refunded to the guest in addition to the payments described above.

• If the guest is still not satisfied, the hotel is responsible for taking additional necessary measures to satisfy the guest, including but not limited to a free return stay at their hotel, etc.

• If a hotel does not deliver the guaranteed reserved and confirmed smoking/non smoking preference, the hotel must provide the guest with their first night’s stay free (room only).

The General Manager/MOD is required to personally contact the guest that night or the following morning by phone. They must:

• Apologise for the situation, and inquire into the guest’s satisfaction with the alternative accommodations.

For groups, a “walked room” (when a guest must be re-accommodated in another hotel) must count toward their contracted complimentary room policy (e.g., “one complimentary room for every 50 rooms occupied”, etc.).

Guest complaints are investigated and if the hotel is found to have not complied with these standards it will result in loss of CQI Guest Relations points.

Although these are specific for IHG hotels, they are quite standard among the chains. Your first night should be free, the hotel should provide you with transportation to the other hotel and provide calling card.

Seems that the standard compensation is a free night at the same hotel at a later date. I would, however, request enough points for a free night at the same category hotel and a stay/night credit for the night.

You may have to be very clear with this request,as it seems that IHG brand standards don’t require hotel to offer these automatically. Only when the guest is not satisfied.

It is interesting that guest, whose smoking preference (smoking or non-smoking) is not honored, is eligible for first night free.

Who IHG Property Should Not Walk?

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Nothing unusual here either. You should never walk your elite, corporate or group guests. I am not sure, however, how the hotel can now in advance who is “lone female guest” or disabled.

Conclusion

It is always good to know what you are eligible for in case of  being walked by a hotel. If you are denied your room at IHG affiliated hotel you are eligible for:

1. Night at comparable hotel (no charge) and free transportation

2. Free night at the offending property (ask for points)

Program elite members get walked very rarely. I have been only walked once by Grand Hyatt Atlanta (Buckhead) at 2AM to nearby Ritz-Carlton. The hotel was overbooked by Priceline/Hotwire guests. Hyatt doesn’t have walking policy.

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