Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry tries to pick up his rental car, only to find out that the company has “taken the reservations” but hasn’t “held” the reservation? That happens in real life, and it can sometimes happen with hotels. Popular hotels overbook all of the time, with the assumption that some people won’t show up, and others will cancel at the last minute. When that happens, the hotel doesn’t miss out on revenue from the unbooked room. But that doesn’t always happen, and sometimes you’ll find yourself at a hotel where the room you reserved isn’t available for you. Or, in some cases, the hotel accidently books too many people who reserved a specific type of room (such as one king bed, when they only have two doubles available).
I’ve had this situation happen several times with family hotels. Once, I received a junior suite when my regular room wasn’t available. Another time, my two-bed room wasn’t available, so we received a room with one king bed. In that case, we received a lower room rate, a better view, and a complimentary buffet breakfast. What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are some tips:
Understand why the overbooking has happened. Sometimes, especially after a recent storm, the hotel may have some damaged rooms. Definitely be understanding and compassionate if that is the case because the hotel is dealing with a difficult situation.
First, find out what the hotel is offering you. Often, the hotel will have an alternative available that will work for you. Just remember that this should work out in your favor since it’s the hotel’s error. So, don’t take the first offer if you aren’t thrilled with it.
Keep in mind that you’re likely to get a better offer if you’ve booked directly with the hotel. Also, if you are a member of their loyalty program, you may want to mention that. If the hotel knows you are a loyal customer, they won’t want to disappoint you.
If you don’t like what you are offered, here are some options:
As for an upgrade. Sometimes the resort will have suites that they can provide to you, in lieu of the original room. Or, perhaps you can get a better view, or a room on a different floor. Hopefully, if a better room is available, it will immediately be offered to you.
If no upgrades are available, see if a downgrade can work for you. For instance, you may receive a room with a worse (or no view) or different bed types. If you accept a downgrade, you should also receive some compensation. This too can be negotiated, if you aren’t happy with the first offer. Some options for compensation are a lower rate, a credit, and free breakfast.
Sometimes, a hotel may only have to move you for one night. If you don’t want to switch rooms, be sure to nicely communicate that.
As a last resort, the hotel may have to transfer you to another hotel. Make sure this is acceptable to you, and that you receive compensation for it. Preferably, the hotel should be better than the hotel that you booked.
Have you ever had this happen? What compensation did you receive?