Historically, hotels have had very customer-friendly cancellation policies. A typical customer could cancel 24 hours prior to arrival and pay no penalty. In some cases, rates would allow cancellation until the afternoon of check-in. Marriott was the first to make a move towards less customer-friendly policies.
Marriott’s new 72-hour cancellation policy is especially painful for business travelers. Schedules change on the road and it’s common practice to make changes to many of my reservations last-minute. Other hotel chains followed Marriott’s lead, though Hyatt hadn’t budged up until now.
Effective January 1, 2018 Hyatt is moving to a 48-hour cancellation policy. But, there’s good news. Explorist and Globalist members are exempt from this change. This makes a ton of sense to me. Elite members represent a lot of business for the hotel chains. Those elite members are frequently business travelers as well, the ones that benefit the most from flexible cancellation policies.
Hyatt made some pretty big changes to their elite program earlier this year. They’ve taken some lumps on some of the changes. As a top-tier Globalist member, it’s mostly been better for me. Hyatt shows they’re still thinking about elite members with the nuanced changes here on cancellation policy.
The Final Two Pennies
The move to a more restrictive cancellation policy by Hyatt was inevitable. Their competition is offering less flexible rates in an effort to earn a bit more cash for their hotel owners. Hyatt isn’t just beholden to shareholders here. They also need to keep hotel owners happy lest they consider changing flags when their franchise agreement comes due.
If you don’t have elite status with Hyatt hotels, AAA is your best friend. They generally still have the shortest cancellation policies on their rates, and the rates are often very competitive.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw some hotel try to nudge the goal line out a bit further on cancellation policies. I don’t think we’ll see drastic changes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Marriott’s policy of 48 OR 72 hour cancellation policy becomes 72 hours across the board.
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