Unexpected Trip Cancellation: Lessons Learned From a Hotel Booking

by joeheg

When it comes to travel, one thing you can always count on is that unforeseen circumstances will eventually disrupt your plans. Whether it’s due to unexpected events or personal reasons, there may come a time when you need to cancel your travel arrangements. Even if you haven’t made any upfront payments or used loyalty points, it’s common for policies to stipulate that last-minute changes could lead to the forfeiture of your points or incurring a cancellation fee.

I’ve written how we wait until the last minute to make reservations for when my wife Sharon is going on a fishing excursion from Cape Canaveral. With the trips subject to cancellation due to rough seas or not enough customers, I often make a hotel reservation the same day. For a recent trip, I booked a room at 12 noon for that evening at a Holiday Inn Express using a free night certificate from our IHG Select card. Not a bad deal for the $49 annual fee.

Change of Plans

Everything looked good, and Sharon left for her trip around 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., she was back home and said that she received a message that the trip was canceled due to a mechanical issue with the boat. My first thought was to try to cancel the hotel reservation.

I called the hotel and spoke to the front desk, explaining the situation. The employee said there wasn’t anything he could do and that we should just cancel on the website or app. I checked the email for the reservation, and had a sinking feeling I’d lose the free night. Even worse, it says I could be charged for one night, which would cost way more than the $49 I paid for the free night.

Canceling your reservation or failing to show will result in a charge for 1 night per room to your credit card or other guaranteed payment method. Taxes may apply. Failing to call or show before check-out time after the first night of a reservation will result in cancellation of the remainder of your reservation.

I figured I could cancel online and try to work it out with IHG if necessary. So I bit the bullet and hit “Cancel.”

Would IHG Charge Us?

The first surprise was that the free night certificate reappeared in her IHG Rewards account almost immediately. But would the hotel follow the cancellation policy and charge us for a night because of a last-minute cancellation? It’s been over a week, and I’m happy to report that no charge has shown up on Sharon’s account.

Unless the hotel was full, they didn’t lose anything by canceling, even at the last minute. If I was able to book a room using an IHG Select free night, that means rooms were available for less than 40,000 points. The last time she stayed at the same hotel, free nights were going for 48,000 points, so I’m sure the hotel wasn’t full.

The hotel’s not charging us for a last-minute change of plans earned them some goodwill with us. We’ll definitely look to stay here again when we need a hotel in Cape Canaveral.

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