Marriott Is Making It Harder To Cancel Hotel Reservations With 72-Hour Guarantees

Large mergers in the travel industry have rarely been a net positive for customers.  There are some benefits, such as larger networks for certain airlines.  But, those have come with the trade-off of less rewarding loyalty programs and, in many cases, higher fares.  The Marriott acquisition of Starwood is no different.

When the merger was first announced, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be an overall good thing for Starwood Preferred Guest members.  SPG prided itself on technology, cool experiences and some top-notch unique hotels.  Marriott had a large footprint but not much else that I wanted as a loyal SPG member.

Marriott did roll out a few positive improvements for their members, like late checkout (though they did it in a botched sort of way).

Now, they’ve quietly rolled out a more restrictive policy on when you can cancel a hotel booking and avoid penalties.

This is a significant change even though it doesn’t change the cancellation timeframe significantly. It follows an earlier move late last year to roll back same-day cancellation policies at many hotels to a 24-hour cancellation penalty.

A 72-hour cancellation policy hurts business travelers like me the hardest. Leisure travelers generally set their travel plans further in advance. Additionally, they’re less likely to cancel a trip at the last-minute.

As a business traveler, I frequently make changes to my travel plans as I go. If meetings or schedules change, I’m always happy to get home to the family early.  There are also plenty of times where I need to end up in a different city at the last-minute, or change to a different area in a city due to local conditions.

As a top-tier elite member of both SPG and Marriott, I suspect that I’ll have some wiggle room with this policy. SPG has shown flexibility in the past when I need to change a reservation that’s past the cancellation window.

However, I’ve always known that was an exception. Going forward, I’ll be relying on the benevolence of Marriott more when my plans change. That’s not a recipe for success.

The Final Two Pennies

Marriott has already said they hope to have a merged loyalty program with SPG by the end of 2018. While we wait those 18 months, Marriott is going to make it harder to do business with them.

We’re in something of a boom economy where hotels are having less trouble filling rooms. Hotel chains have been less rewarding with promotions and bonus points, no big surprise.

Now, Marriott appears to be seizing on increased demand and the breadth of their network to pinch customers just a bit more.

The post Marriott Is Making It Harder To Cancel Hotel Reservations With 72-Hour Guarantees was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. This change evidently also applies to award stays and C&P stays at Starwood which is a HUGE negative!

  2. If they made it a new Platinum benefit that people could cancel their reservation anytime without penalty, that could add value to their most loyal customers. They could add a free cancellations up to 24-hours for Gold members as well. Doing something like that could innovate their loyalty program and still give their best guests more convenience for being loyal. At the same time, for guests that are not as loyal (Silver and no status), they can be under the new 48-72 hour policy. It also could be a motivator for more loyalty. Just a few thoughts on how to soften the blow and even create more loyalty.

    1. Joe, that would be a smart approach. I doubt they’ll do it. SPG has been pretty good about letting me out of prepaid rates occasionally. But, they don’t have to do it. Now, just more times we’ll be begging for favors.

  3. Arne lied. This is the type of Marriott move that us SPG loyalists expected would come with the merger. This is just the beginning IMHO. All one has to do is look what they did with the Renaissance & Ritz-Carlton mergers. They will continue to do the same to SPG loyalists as they to Renaissance & R-C loyalists. I can’t wait to see the portraits of Bill Marriott hung in the lobbies of W hotels. Buh Bye Arne.

  4. Perhaps it’s the Platinum status but I have never had a problem with a last minute cancellation at Marriott – providing a good reason like a missed connection or a cancelled meeting.

    Here is a trick to share. When you are inside the cancellation timeframe, don’t cancel but change the dates to the following week. Then cancel that.

    I admit to having a slightly shady nature.

  5. Ed, Just made a Marriott reservation in Anchorage & yes it had the new, 72 hr cancel-for-free window, but it also had a $6 fee for 24-hr cancel. Not the best offer, but not dire either.

  6. Ed, NEVERMIND – looked at rez again & it’s 72 hrs – no 24 hr window at all. Sorry for confusion.

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