Marriott & SPG Changed Cancellation Policy For All Standard Rate + Award Reservations In North/Latin America & The Caribbean From 24h to 48h Prior To Arrival

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Marriott has changed an important policy in a rather customer unfriendly way, namely upping the cancellation deadline policy for standard rates from 24h to now 48 hours prior to scheduled arrival.

The new rule will apply to both Marriott as well as Starwood properties and even to the most expensive rates not booked under a special corporate arrangement that usually comes with more flexible conditions such as same day cancellation.

Except for certain resorts it’s very unusual that a hotel chain resorts to putting such blanket draconian restrictions on non-discounted rates.

Of course all hotel chains and independent hotels sell Advance Purchase rooms that are non refundable and since they come with often substantial savings there is nothing wrong with that.

Marriott has not announced this new policy on their publicly available newsroom at the time of this article, instead I read about it on CNN Money (access here).

The world’s largest hotel chain announced on Thursday that customers must give at least 48-hours notice if they plan to cancel a reservation — or cough up a fee equivalent to one night’s stay.

Up until Thursday, guests were generally allowed to cancel reservations without a penalty up until the day before their visit.

“Guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation by midnight 48 hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a fee,” Marriott International (MAR) said in a statement. The new policy applies to hotels in the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America. Marriott added that the change will not apply to Design Hotels, which are independently owned, and Marriott Vacation Worldwide hotels. …

A handful of Marriott hotels already had a 48-hour or 72-hour cancellation policy in place prior to the company-wide decision, according to Allison Sitch, a Marriott spokeswoman. She said that some of those hotels with a 72-hour cancellation policy will continue that practice, and some that had previously maintained a 48-hour policy have switched to a 72-hour cancellation policy.

Marriott explained that the change will help out customers seeking reservations on short notice, adding that hotels with a one-day policy were left with “a significant number of unsold rooms” due to last-minute cancellations.

So some properties that already had a longer than usual cancellation deadline are now using this policy change to push their own even further to three days. Way to go – NOT!

Indeed after checking a Sheraton Hotel for the coming week I confirmed the new policy has already been implemented:

Also keep in mind that some hotels, especially resorts, have cancellation deadlines that can be 7 days or higher which you often see at exotic locations or during peak holiday periods.

Oh and before you think this only applies to paid revenue reservations, think again. Award reservations are also affected:

Last but not least, the statement that this change will actually benefit customers is a bad joke. It benefits the company/property and nobody else. How many people are seeking reservations between 48-24h prior to arrival that will benefit from this new policy? It’s a money grab and nothing but.

Conclusion

This change in policy is an even higher incentive to look out for the absolutely best deal possible and to check with the respective employer or customer if the company has a specially negotiated rate available with the hotel chain or individual properties which usually have favorable conditions such as 6pm same day cancellation or at least remain with the 24h deadline.

I don’t like when such important announcements aren’t being made in the most publicly accessible way such as an email to their Elite members. As a Platinum member with both SPG and Marriott Rewards, the way I’m learning about this is through CNN? Seriously?

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  • Danny

    Simple. Start booking at non-Marriott / Starwood properties. They will know that guests are now choosing other brands because of this horrible new policy. That’s my plan. I need flexibility.

    • cscasi

      Good for you. Makes more room available when I try to book.

      • Danny

        All yours…enjoy!

  • Razz

    Sebastian- As a Life Platinum I am wondering if this practice- which is indeed draconian- could be offset somewhat by allowing Gold/Platinum members to keep the 24 hour window. I am going to send an email to that effect to their Platinum desk, and wonder if that is something you and/or John might want to take up as an option with them as well- just a thought.

    • RackDaddy

      I’m curious as to the value of the “as a life platinum” quip. What does it add to your argument? The policy change effects even us common folk.

  • Craig J

    The example you showed clearly shows cancel by 6pm two days prior – not midnight – making it a 54 hour cancellation policy. MAR is definitely misleading their guests if they publicly announced a 48 hour policy. Shame on them!

  • rdrago43

    What I’m afraid of is all the other competing hotel chains will follow with same cancellation policy.

  • PayItForward

    Non-Elites are likely less impacted and also unlikely the cause of the “issues” faced by properties.
    I came across claims by elites in forums and blogs where Elites make multiple bookings across different properties and see which one scores the best upgrades and then cancel the rest. When benefits are abused, steps will be taken to prevent revenue lost.