Heads up globe trotters
If you do any traveling in 2015, before you make any reservations you need to check the amenities and policies at the hotel where you’re staying. The hotel industry is changing its policies to generate more revenue and prevent losses from cancellations. Hotels are taking their cue from the travel industry, based on its success with ancillary fees for baggage and ticket cancellations.
Business travelers are making more cancellations than ever, which is why hotels are tightening their policies. Many hotels allow cancellations up to 6 p.m. on the day of the reservation. Hilton and Marriott have both implemented policies that cut off at midnight the night before you stay. Some hotels now have 72-hour advance notice for cancellations. You may even have to pay for the entire stay when you cancel, instead of the typical one-night charge of the past.
Another major change in the industry is the offering of wifi. Although many still offer free Internet service, you have to sign up with their rewards program so that they get your information. By signing up for their “elite” program, you would get even faster service. One hotel chain offers free Internet if you book directly with them, instead of using a service like Orbitz or Travelocity.
But watch out for cancellation policies
On November 19, 2014, Marriott filed a petition with the FCC asking them to block personal hotspots of their patrons, forcing you to use their in-house wifi. In October, Marriot settled a claim for jamming signals of their guests and paid a large fine. Microsoft and Google are against the proposal, and there isn’t a timeline on when the FCC will rule. The FCC does enforce some limits on devices, mostly to decrease interference. It pays to check the wifi policy before you book your room.
If you use apps to check hotel rates to get better last-minute deals, this will put a hamper on your plans. You can no longer just cancel the more expensive rate before you check in. Cancellation rates may also change based on the anticipated demand. Fortunately, more hotels are making their policy very clear when you book. Demand for hotel rooms is up, but the supply has not increased to meet that demand. It gives hotels the opportunity to dictate prices and policies until the pendulum swings to the other side.