One of the areas particularly hard hit by the coronavirus emergency has been the travel industry, including hotels. All the major hotel chains are taking their responsibilities to their guests very seriously, particularly in the area of hygiene, in order to protect the health of travelers as well as staff. Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented for public areas and for guestroom cleaning. However, you should be aware that many hotels have suspended or revised daily housekeeping service policies during your stay to minimize risks to both travelers and staff. Be sure to inquire about new policies that may be in place.
A number of hotels have been forced to or have elected to close during this pandemic. Those who have decided to temporarily suspend operations have varying plans for reopening – some in the near future, and some not until next year sometime.
Impact on travelers:
For those who previously booked a room at a hotel which has suspended operations, your booking should have been cancelled and you would need to rebook. In a few (rare) cases, the hotel has failed to notify affected travelers, so we recommend you confirm your reservation if it has been a while since you made it.
For those now attempting to book a room through our website, you may find that some of the hotels do not return information when you search for availability for your dates – instead you may get an “unable to process” message. This is typically an indication that the hotel has suspended operations for those dates so you will need to select a different hotel.
Hotels’ abilities to offer their standard package of amenities has been significantly impacted by policies and conditions imposed by the pandemic. Considerations of hygiene and social distancing in particular have made some amenities unavailable (such as fitness centers) or only available in a modified form (for instance, breakfasts may need to be preordered and provided as a carryout meal).
Impact on travelers:
If there are specific amenities that are essential or important to you, we recommend you contact the hotel in advance to confirm that they are still being provided, but in general, you should expect hotel services to be curtailed in appropriate ways in response to public health requirements.
Advance Payment or Deposit Required bookings
Hotels often offer discounted rates under terms that require non-refundable advance payment or a deposit. This past spring, in the wake of the sudden cancellation of school events and subsequent changes of plans that could not have been foreseen, many travelers with non-refundable, non-cancellable bookings sought relief from the hotels, and in our experience our client hotels waived cancellation penalties and refunded advance payments without question. However, we are seeing indications that for future bookings they will not be as accommodating since, from their perspective, the variable and changing impact of the current health crisis represents a “known risk” that the traveler would be taking in now making a non-cancellable reservation.
In consideration of these issues we would like to remind our clients that while advance purchase, non-refundable rates do provide savings opportunities, the amount of savings needs to be weighed against the loss of flexibility. As current events make clear, unexpected changes in plans can arise and need to be factored into your decisions, and hotels are less likely than they were before to waive penalties.