One of the areas particularly hard hit by the coronavirus emergency has been the travel industry, including hotels. From what we can tell, 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.
Another area of concern for hotel guests at this time is customer service. As school event cancellations and other considerations bring about changes in travel plans, existing hotel reservations are being cancelled in record numbers. While we have found most hotels to be exceptionally accommodating, there is some potential for hotel customers to encounter challenges as their plans change.
Often, events are cancelled by the schools at the last minute, making it difficult for guests to cancel bookings within the hotel terms for doing so without penalty. Those who chose an advance purchase rate at the time of booking are discovering a further complication since those purchases are typically non-refundable. Whether or not these terms are enforced is entirely at the discretion of the hotel. At present not all hotels are choosing to waive them automatically, however, we have found that contacting the hotels directly and explaining the circumstances will typically result in the waiving of charges or the refunding of advance purchase costs.
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.