No Show Procedure In Hotels – What Happens If You Do Not Show Up For The Reservation You Booked?
Major hotels make a good amount of revenue out of billing guests who didn’t cancel their reservations in time, for rooms that went unused that they carelessly didn’t cancel out. The hotels today look for every source of revenue they can find as our travel industry is taking quite a toll. The economy has effected our leisure travel to a point that many hotels have had to file bankruptcy.
When a person makes a hotel reservation today, they are obligated to either take that room, cancel it, or pay for it. For example, in some markets like Las Vegas, if you aren’t a known gambler, they just as soon as you not take that room and they can sell it to someone else who may be a better player in their casino. That is why the hotels in Las Vegas overbook themselves, that way they can choose who they want to walk to another hotel. If a last minute casino customers walks in the door, they will sell them that room to them, and worry about the person who holds a confirmation for that room later.
In Vegas, because only a few Corporations actually have control of all the hotel rooms, it is easy to place people around to their different hotels.
But, What If You Are A No show?
At times plans get to change during travel and you end up having to forfeit a hotel booking you had made. When things don’t go as planned, it is important that you contact the hotel you had planned to stay in, in order to avoid being charged hotel charges without utilizing their services. Hotels have been getting stricter in their cancellation policies, which means that you need to be aware of these policies before booking a hotel.
That said, if you are a no show a simple answer is you are likely going to be billed for that room. Here are some procedures to most hotels around the world to give you more insights and hopefully avoid no show charges:
How Hotel Cancellation Policies Work
Hotels are currently able to create their policies in whichever way they dim fit, without being restricted or guided by any agency. This has made it a rather uneven playing field meaning every hotel is different from another. Hotels vary in their policy making, making it wise to read through their fine print before booking. While some hotels give you up till the evening before your arrival to cancel, these are becoming fewer. Many hotels are now asking for as much as 72 hours prior notice or more when you wish to cancel reservations. If you do not comply to the stipulated time set, then you can be charged from as little as a one night charge for every room you had booked, to being charged for the entire period that you were meant to stay. While these hotel charges seem preposterous in the least, hotels are still in their rights to uphold the charges. So it boils down to you to cover your flanks.
It is often erroneously assumed by travelers that hotels will waive a no-show charge when bad weather prevents people from arriving. While some hotels MAY do this, it is far from the norm. Weather is a part of traveling and hotels do not ‘assume’ some people will be delayed because of weather and absorb that responsibility. Otherwise people can simply make up a story about bad weather when they in fact missed their flight. Therefore, the vast majority of hotels do not allow cancellations for weather related travel problems for the same reason passengers would not allow a hotel to charge a higher rate than they were guaranteed if and when they arrived. A guarantee is a guarantee and people make reservations because they want a locked in room at a specific rate – to be able to cancel at the last hour for any reason would render all reservations worthless. The simple workaround to this would be to just not make any reservations and call hotels for a room when or if you arrive.
Read the Fine Print
This point cannot be insisted enough. Reading the fine print of the hotel’s policies will help you know the charges they apply and to what extent. This will help you plan ahead to any eventuality of being a no show. If you cannot be able to handle the stipulated charges, then the best thing is to look for another hotel that will accommodate you. Knowing what the hotel requires can also give you a bargaining chip to negotiate beforehand. If you can get them to compromise before your no show, then you can be able to save on penalties.
Last minute bookings? It may seem like a great idea to make a booking at the last minute for some instant sunshine or relaxation, but this is the time when a change of plan will leave you with the highest cancellation charges. While some hotels will accept cancellations up to 24 hours before, others like the one I chose will penalise you for a cancellation, even if the room has only been out of circulation for a few days.
Contact the Hotel
When you have an inkling that you might be a no show, you should ascertain the procedure for cancellation before making the booking. Talking to the hotel is a good way of getting the proper information even after reading the policy from their online site. Once you have the procedure noted, you are well armed to refute any charges if you made the cancellation in the right manner and followed the right procedure.
When you contact the hotel, request to speak with a manager if the person answering the phone is unable to authorize the refund or waive the fees. In some cases, only the managers have this authority, but you may have to ask to speak to someone higher on the chain.
Lastly, talk to the manager about reducing the fees if he/she refuses to waive them completely. Even though you’ll still have to pay something, you won’t be out as much money.
Have Tangible Evidence
When making a cancellation, be sure to have evidence that you indeed cancelled your booking. You could be issued with a cancellation number if you do it over the phone. If you use email to cancel the booking, you have your evidence. Phone calls are however better placed to handle such issues as they cannot be refuted. One can always say they never saw the email.
Or if you were dealing with a sensible hotel, get documentation from your airline that your flight was canceled. IF a hotel is amenable to canceling your room, they will almost always require something showing you couldn’t fly anyway. This holds true for sickness or injury or even death too. Get a ‘note from the doctor’ or an emergency room receipt – anything to show why you couldn’t travel. You can also reserve rooms at hotels or motels that have a 6pm hold as most people will know well before 6pm whether they are going to make it or not. If you are going to need the same room for the next night (assuming you can travel the following day), try asking the hotel if they will change the reservation to the following day.
There are times when you have taken the right steps to cancel and your credit card still gets charged. In these times, you should contact the hotel with your cancellation information as well as a request to credit your account with the deducted amount. If this is not done, then you can always appeal with your credit card company.
Other Ways to Cover Yourself
As mentioned earlier, if you feel that a hotel’s policies are too prohibitive, you can always look for another hotel more fitting to your needs. Keep in mind that the only way to not get charged no show fees is to follow their procedure for cancellation. Short of doing this, you will only have yourself to blame. Another way to cover yourself from these hotel charges is to have a travel insurance policy. This is beneficial in many ways.
However, here are other secrets that not a lot of people know; if you refuse to pay your credit card bill that the room was charged too, you have a good chance of them not paying the hotel. It is always worth a try to go ahead and refuse to bay the no-show penalty. Some hotels also will not bill you no-show if the hotel actually fills. Reservations are usually held until 6 pm for hotels that do not require a deposit. Hotels that require a deposit let your room go at the end of their business day which is usually around midnight. As soon as the night audit starts, the rooms go back on the market.
Also, you can simply call the hotel and change the arrival date of your reservation so that the date is far enough in the future that you are no longer within the hotel’s cancellation cutoff date. For example, if the original reservation was for arrival on October 15th and the cut-off date for avoiding cancellation fees was October 13th, call the hotel and change the reservation so that the arrival is on October 25th. Then, wait a day or two and then call back and cancel the reservation. Now that that you are no longer in violation of the cut-off date, you will be able to cancel the reservation without paying any additional fees.
Are there situations where this technique will not work? There are a few to be sure. For highly popular special events, for example, Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida, that are booked months in advance or even a year in advance, hotels will likely not allow any changes to your original reservation. Also, prepaid hotel rates almost always require a change fee since there is more administrative effort in changing a prepaid reservation. The change fee might cost as much as the cancellation fee. But, in general, for most reservations, you should be able to successfully change your arrival date to some date in the future that allows you to subsequently cancel the reservation without payment of a cancellation fee.
But, contrary to what many people may think, hotels do not like charging for no-shows. They staff the hotel and price available remaining rooms according to anticipated occupancy and it is not true they like empty revenue rooms over occupied rooms. Empty rooms do not eat in hotel restaurants or use hotel services like parking, internet, in room bars or pay per view TV. And the fact remains that someone would likely have rented a room if you didn’t have a reservation and the hotel cannot absorb vacant rooms when people do not show up when others would have gladly reserved the room. So it is necessary to charge for no-shows, even if weather related because the main option always exists: do not reserve a room if ANY doubt exists that you may not make it. Most airport hotels charge less to you as a walk in anyway than when you reserve in advance so it actually might save you a few dollars to NOT reserve a room.
To sum it all, make sure that you understand the hotel’s cancellation policy before you make the trip, or you could end up with “no room at the inn” or no show charges!
For more ways to prepare your vacation, visit the Travel Planning category.