Don’t get caught – IHG, Hilton and Marriott change their cancellation rules

The last few months have seen a number of, in some cases, underhand moves to change – for the worse – the cancellation policies for flexible hotel bookings.

These moves have generally been restricted to North America which is why I haven’t covered them.  However, IHG – owner of Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo and other brands – has launched this in Europe as well.  Hilton also made a change from 1st August.

As of two weeks ago, Best Flexible Rate bookings at IHG properties in Europe and the Americas need to be cancelled THE DAY BEFORE arrival.  Not at midnight, but usually by around 4pm.

Here are a few random examples I tried:

Holiday Inn Mayfair, London – cancel by 4pm the day before

InterContinental Paris Le Grand – cancel by 4pm the day before

Crowne Plaza Porto – cancel by 4pm the day before

IHG hotels in Asia, the Middle East and Africa still retain the current ‘cancel the same day’ policy but will reportedly be switching during September.

Hotel

Whether this new policy is a problem to you or not depends on your travel pattern.  We book cancellable rates most of the time – you tend to do that when travelling with little kids who may fall ill – but we know by the day before whether we are going or not.

The real hit is to the business traveller who books a room just in case a meeting overruns.  You can’t do that any longer.  You may be better off not pre-booking at all and, if you do find yourself needing something at short notice, booking it via a mobile app on your phone (and, of course, facing the wrath of your corporate travel department for breaching policy when you return).

What makes this worse, of course, is that IHG hasn’t notified IHG Rewards Club members of this change.  If you are not totally on the ball when booking you could easily have failed to notice it.

And it’s not just IHG ….

IHG is simply following the lead of other chains.

Outside North America, Hilton and Marriott / Starwood already had a ‘one day before arrival’ policy which actually means by midnight the day before.  IHG is now worse than this, requiring 4pm cancellation the day before.

In North America:

Hilton moved to a 48 hour cancellation policy on 1st August, with some hotels asking for 72 hours

Marriott / Starwood moved to a 48 hour cancellation policy (72 hours at some hotels) earlier in 2017

This means that IHG remains more generous that these three chains in North America, even with the new ‘4pm the day before’ policy.  This is still no use to the business traveller who wants to hold a room in case a meeting runs late.

The bottom line is that you should vote with your wallet.  At least in Europe, Radisson Blu is still offering cancellation on the day of arrival, as are the Accor brands (Novotel, Sofitel, Ibis, Pullman etc).  For now.

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Comments

  1. IHG cancellations in Australia are only free before 6pm (local time) the day before arrival.

    This has been policy in Australia since at least April this year as far as I am aware.
    In Australia, Accor & SPG were also the same, with free cancellation only up to 6pm the day before (as at 31/7/17).

  2. Does anyone know whether you can have both IHG (Black and White) card under one online user account like AMEX/MBNA etc? Or Do I need to set up with separate Username, Password etc. for cards separately?

    • All new details required I’m afraid

    • Andrew M says:

      Welcome to the Creation customer experiance!

      • Brighton Belle says:

        I asked them how I could export transaction history into excel without plenty of cell formula manipulation. CSV… it can’t be done and they couldn’t care less. Probably the worst credit card support on Planet Earth

        • +1

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I cancelled a FlyBe card with Creation about six months ago. I got a letter in the mail confirming the cancellation, but the card is still not showing as settled with credit reference agencies and they still seem to be reporting once a month. Sigh.

      • I am having a right battle with them over the free night voucher. Both Creation and IHG blaming eachother. About 6 weeks after anniversary and still no voucher.

        • Well blow me down. The voucher finally posted to my IHG account today. No explanation or apology for the delay. I’m interested to know what the problem was and which of the 2 companies was lying to me!

    • An app seems to be too much to ask as well.

  3. It’s not just flexible bookings – we made some Points Break bookings for our Scotland trip. Crowne Plaza 27-29 August. “Canceling your reservation before 4:00 PM (local hotel time) on Saturday, 26 August, 2017 will result in no charge.” So less flexibility there too!

  4. Peter K says:

    I noticed this last week as booked a stay for a friend and though it was just me forgetting the cancellation rules. Obviously not!
    The last minute booking apps might really benefit from this.

  5. I would not be surprised to see a “premium flexible rate” one day where you will be able to cancel as you used to – but at a higher price…

  6. Briandt says:

    Cancelling by 4pm sound reasonable to me.

  7. I booked a standard reward stay at Brighton Hilton a few weeks back and they needed 3, yes 3 days cancellation. I thought it was excessive.

    • Hotels job is to maximise occupancy and revenue. 4pm the day before booking seems perfectly fair to me, allowing them sufficient time to take whatever actions necessary to re-sell your room.
      I understand changes bring anxiety to people, but this seems like a perfectly reasonable commercial decision.

      • Peter K says:

        I can see your point, however sometimes as the consumer you need more flexibility than that.
        Also, they will sometimes oversell their rooms and only tell you when you turn up…how is that fair to the customer?

        • Remember that the airlines – if you have a flexible ticket – don’t even require you to cancel. You simply don’t turn up and ask for your money back later.

          People are paying a premium for a flexible room and should get the flexibility they need.

        • Not quite the same, surely. Flex hotel room might be an extra tenner. Flexible flight might be 2 or 3 times the price, hundreds of not thousands more expensive.

      • Briandt says:

        Agreed.

  8. Slightly OT – linking SPG and Amex accounts, I remember reading somewhere there’s a trick involving leading zeroes or similar? My SPG number is eleven digits according to SPG site. Amex site throwing up an error when I try to link them.

  9. As of last month, Marriott in Asia, specifically Bangkok and Singapore were offering a range of restrictions (they have been for at least a couple of years so no change here) with same day cancellation available until 18:00 local time being the best. Other times were 24/72 hours after booking through to a week prior to arrival (at a resort hotel) to 24 hours prior to arrival.

    I have thought their offering too confusing as historically there were about 2 or 3 options. With inclusive packages being offered as well, the permutations can be truly mind boggling and can run into hundreds of options.

  10. Apologies for asking here but some of the comments on the relevant articles are locked…

    Can anyone confirm whether my wife would still get the MR bonus if I refer her for the Gold amex considering she’s a supplementary holder of my platinum charge card? (She hasn’t held a gold/platinum in her name for >6months).

    Thanks

  11. O/T Marriott 1000 points bonus still showing on Marriott account (since 31 July), but still no transfer to BAEC. Anyone else still experiencing this issue?

    • Same here

    • Jonathan says:

      +1

    • Here is their answer:
      Dear David

      Thank you for contacting Marriott Rewards.

      I’m sorry that the frequent flyer miles from the 2017 Double Miles with 1K Bonus promotion did not post to your British Airways account within the expected timeframe. We are continuing to work with British Airways to post the missing frequent flyer miles.

      We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.

      Thank you for choosing Marriott.

      Sincerely,

      Sarah C.
      Internet Correspondence Specialist
      Marriott Rewards Guest Services

      • the real harry1 says:

        you realise the difference between ‘apologize’ & ‘apologise’?

        one’s an insincere American and the other one you didn’t get is a lovely European with culture (% sincerity)

    • Brian W says:

      +1

      I opened 4 accounts for family members, ‘2017 Double Miles with 1K Bonus’ all showing on Marriott accounts but only one has led to the Avios being received in that persons BAEC account. I did all within 10 mins of each other so hopefully the rest will follow eventually as per the email David has shared.

  12. The mix of reward and flexible IHG “Your Rate” rooms that I booked in March for Japan all show 6pm cancellation the day before. I also had a Hilton Garden Inn reservation that had to be cancelled by 1159pm 3 days before.

    I do not mind 24 hrs in advance but three days really does reduce its flexibility.

  13. Completely O/T

    I have an Amex Plat and BAPP. There are some exclusions (eg cancellation etc) on the Plat insurance if “the card” is not used in the purchase of say flights and/or hotels. My reading of the definitions is that these would not be excluded if the BAPP card was used in those purchase transactions. I would prefer to use the BAPP card in this instance as expenditure towards the £10000 spend.

    • Previous comments have confirmed that the Plat insurance will be valid as long as you have purchased the flights on an Amex issued card. Therefore using the BAPP is fine.

    • If you read the definitions section at the start of the T&Cs you’ll see it only specifies an Amex card issued by Amex (eg not MBNA) – doesn’t have to be the Plat card. Many elements don’t even need to be on an Amex.

    • Thank you both very much for your quick responses!

  14. ankomonkey says:

    OT (but hotel related): Finally got my Accor Le Club Platinum Moleskine notebook today. Should make a nice present for someone, assuming anyone still makes hand-written notes these days…

  15. Off topic – I wondered if anyone could please assist with any miles ideas or cheap airfare suggestions for flights to New Zealand in March 2018.

    Depart London: Wednesday 7 March 2018 to Christchurch, NZ.
    Depart Christchurch: Sunday 18 March 2018 to London.

    Sale economy tickets are around £562 return each (China Southern) and Qantas/Emirates is around £750 return each at the moment.

    My wife has 85,954 Avios plus a BA 2-4-1 voucher;
    I have 39,296 BAEC Avios plus 10,061 inside Avios.com = 49,357 Avios – I also have a Lloyds Upgrade Voucher sitting in Avios.com

    I also have around NZD $2,000 of Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars but these do not go very far due to the revenue programme and redemption rates!

    I don’t have any hotel points that can transfer into anything substantial on the airline front.

    I would grateful if anyone has any miles solutions or else it is going to be 30 hours in Economy for us! I would save up the avios for future flights next year instead and put the 2-4-1 voucher and Lloyds upgrade voucher to good use on other trips.

    Many thanks,

    1DES1

    • Oz/NZ generally very tricky. Air NZ very stingy with award space. Personally I’ve found SQ the best bet (miles transferrable from Amex MR points) – availability via KrisFlyer programme isn’t too bad and they let you waitlist. Currently constructing a Suites trip with them – would love if it ended up as quiet as my last trip with them a couple of years ago when I had the cabin to myself SIN-AKL!!

      • the real harry1 says:

        yep I don’t think you’ll do better than paying cash for cheap economy tickets & saving the points for better days

        I don’t suppose cash tickets plus points for an upgrade is possible? have you looked into it?

        • Cash + upgrade wasn’t an option on anyone apart from BA – they wanted 200,000 Avios for Ecoonomy Seats to SYD + £1k in taxes (on QF 2 ex LHR).

          I’ve just booked China Southern – should be an adventure. £600 return each with only one stop is a steal and I will save up my Avios for redemptions later.

      • the real harry1 says:

        I had a nice out-turn when I did Trailfinders RTW and got an empty-ish plane San Fran (or was it LA?) – Sydney (night)

        we all just hippied out sleeping on 3 seats at the back after food & copious drink

        no idea the carrier – back in 1999

      • Thanks Alan – because I’ve been based in the U.K. for the last 5 years I’ve been focusing on Avios rather than MR points. Good luck with the Suites booking!

        • Thanks – almost got it sorted, multiple legs confirmed! Shame the new Suites product won’t be in place by the time I’m flying, although the old one was pretty impressive anyway so I’ll still be happy with that! 😀

        • Absolutely – enjoy

    • Bluenose says:

      Hi,

      Qatar EU-NZ in J regularly comes up on sale, e.g. Pisa-Auckland. Maybe use avios to position yourselves to Pisa?

      Or somehow get to Colombo, then do CMB-NZ, NZ-CMB, CMB-UK ? Colombo is a known cheap places for J fares.

      Regards,
      Bluenose

      • Thanks Bluenose. I’ve been keeping an eye on Qatar. Best I saw was £1,500 each for discounted J sale to AKL ex CPH. What a steal for J!

        I’ve ended on going with China Southern, two tickets in Economy is £1,200 return and we will pocket the additional £1,800 for spending on other things in NZ and future trips. I’m not yet 30 so can still fly cattle class for that kind of saving.

  16. Hope this doesn’t effect the reward nights as well…

  17. Cancelled DoubleTree Dundee in the spring the morning if arrival due to illness, I’d even checked in. No probs with refunding points.

    Staying there next month, intending dining in as a thank you for great service.

    • the real harry1 says:

      sounds a bit OTT 🙂

      not sure any quid pro quo is even vaguely merited, it’s not a mom & pop operation

    • It’s an excellent property and I found their food very tasty – quite a few locals come in to eat there! Enjoy your rearranged trip.

      • It is a nice hotel – a new Hampton Inn has recently opened in Dundee but not been in to see it. Lots of new hotels being built in the city in preparation for the new V&A museum opening next year.

  18. A weird decision… On hotels.com I can book the Crown Plaza in Hamburg with a cancellation deadline of 7 PM ON the day of arrival. HRS at least offers 6 PM the day before. I guess it comes down to wether you need flexibility or status benefits now.