First it was the bed wars, then the TV wars, now cancellation policies?
After both Marriott and Hilton tweaked their cancellation allowances, the latest, InterContinental Hotels Group,is going against the grain with its new cancellation policy, allowing customers the rather standard 24 hours to cancel a reservation across most of its brands without penalty.
IHG plans to launch the revised policy by region, starting with Europe by the end of July. In the Americas, the policy will launch by Aug. 4 while it will roll out in Asia, the Middle East and Africa by the end of September. However, a majority of the group's properties in China already have a same-day cancellation policy.
Meanwhile, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Even and Candlewood will implement the revised policy while Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will keep a 48-hour required cancellation period. "IHG's previous cancellation policy varied by both region and brand, and this new change will mean that the majority of the IHG estate will now operate under similar terms," an IHG spokesperson told TravelMarket Report.
IHG's new cancellation policy follows a month after Marriott International implemented a stricter cancellation requirement for its guests. Effective on June 15, guests have a 48-hour window to notify the hotel of a cancellation instead of the original 24-hour window. Guests will now be charged a one-night penalty fee for cancellations after the deadline.
Marriott's revised policy was launched across Marriott and Starwood brands in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean and Latin American. However, independently owned Design Hotels and Marriott Vacation Worldwide properties will not enforce the policy. Marriott spokesperson Allison Sitch said in a statement that many Marriott hotels already enforced a 48- or 72-hour cancellation policy. Some of the properties with a 48-hour policy will be switching to a 72-hour period while the 72-hour policies will remain.
While Hilton has always maintained a lenient policy, the group followed suit by extending it to the 48- or 72-hour policy at hotels managed by Hilton, effective at the end of the month. After the deadline, Hilton guests will also be hit will a penalty fee. Hilton franchises and properties managed by other companies have the choice to determine their own cancellation policy. Some hotels in highly-frequented cities or resort areas may opt to require the 72-hours' notice.
Marriott and Hilton shortened their cancellation periods to 24 hours in 2014. Hilton claimed that the smaller period would provide a more consistent booking process for guests and hotel operators. Now, both hotel operators are using the same reasoning for its new policy to assist travelers with last-minute bookings and to reduce "a significant number of unsold rooms" attributed to last-minute cancellations.