Until now, when you have booked a Best Flexible Rate, the cancellation has usually been allowed until 4PM to 6PM on the day of arrival, although there have been property specific differences (always remember to check).
Starting on January 1, 2015, both Hilton and Marriott will start a more restrictive blanket cancellation policies, although individual properties are allowed to continue offer current ones. But how man will?
Hilton has neither emailed about this upcoming change to its HHonors members nor have any warnings up on its website. Hilton HHonors representative was trying to put lipstick on a pig on a FlyerTalk post (access here).
I wanted to share a quick update with you. We are updating our reservation cancellation guidelines to a minimum of 11:59 p.m. local hotel time the day prior to arrival, and you will be required to provide a credit card at the time of booking.
These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2015. As always, cancellation policies may still vary depending on the rate or dates of your reservation, and some hotels have more restrictive policies in place, so please refer to your individual confirmations to verify their policy.
We’re making this change so that we can provide you with a more consistent booking process and make more rooms available for when you need last minute travel accommodations.
Claiming that Hilton would be doing this to “give you with a more consistent booking process and make more rooms available for when you need last minute travel accommodations” is nothing more than a blatant lie.
Hilton does this so that the properties can charge the credit cards on file one the night before AND that they can collect more cash from the people that book accommodations that they may have to change/cancel at the last minute due to travel disruptions.
Now, Hilton can just more aggressively oversell rooms because why would anyone call to cancel even when they know that they won’t show up if they are past the night before cancellation deadline?
Marriott also has made this change but has not publicly acknowledged it. Barbara DeLollis, who writes Travel Update, was able to get hold internal memo (read more here).
Difficult to believe why Hilton is trying to sell this as a positive change, which it is not. If you tend to book Best Flexible Rates due to need to make changes to reservations on the day of arrival, you should book away from Hilton and Marriott starting on January 1, 2015. I would expect, however, that most corporate rates keep the day of arrival 6PM cancellation policy.