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.
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
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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