Have you ever arrived at your hotel only to be told that you didn’t really book a room there? If so, you might have thought that you were getting forgetful, thinking that you’d secured your room when really you hadn’t. The truth may be something else entirely. You might be a victim of hotel overbooking.
What is hotel overbooking?
Many hotels allow their rooms to get overbooked. What this means is that they allow more people to book rooms than the number of rooms that they actually have available. If the actual number of people who books rooms shows up to claim those rooms, some of them aren’t available. The hotel may try to turn you away. This is overbooking.
Why would hotels do this?
Hotels choose to overbook for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s rare that everyone who books a room is going to show up. The hotel assumes that a few people will cancel and that they won’t end up having a problem accommodating everyone who shows up for a room. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the hotel can maximize its profits this way. If people do cancel then the hotel charges them a cancellation fee for a room that they’d already planned to give to another paying customer, effectively getting paid twice for one room. In fact, this practice can be so profitable to hotels that there are entire educational courses devoted to teaching hotel management how to do it!
Signs that you’re a victim of hotel overbooking
A hotel is not actually very likely to own up to the fact that it overbooked the rooms. This would be bad for business. Instead, hotels will use a series of excuses to make it seem as though it’s not really their fault that you aren’t going to get the room that you had planned on getting. Here are some signs that you are a victim of overbooking:
- The hotel tries to tell you that it’s your fault that you’re not getting a room. Common excuses hotels will use when turning you away due to overbooking include saying that there’s no room booked under your name, that you must have accidentally booked the room at another location, that your credit card was denied or that you canceled or never confirmed your room. If you’re sure that you booked the room properly then you’ve probably become a victim of overbooking.
- The hotel tries to tell you that they canceled the room. They may say that they sent you an email or left you a voice mail message letting you know in advance that there was a problem with the room and that they would be canceling your stay. If you didn’t really receive a message then there’s a good chance that they just overbooked you.
- The hotel says that there are last minute problems with your room. They tell you that the building recently flooded or that they just had a major power outage in half of the building. Of course, this is sometimes true. However, it may also be an excuse that the hotel is using because they overbooked you.
How to avoid becoming a victim of overbooking
There are a few simple tips that you can follow that will limit the likelihood that you will become a victim of overbooking. These tips include:
- Print out all confirmation receipts showing that you booked the room. When you have a piece of paper with a confirmation number showing the exact booking information, a hotel is going to be less capable of turning you away with a flimsy excuse.
- Call the hotel the day before you are set to arrive. Ask to confirm your reservation. Request a confirmation number or the name of the person who confirmed your reservation.
- Arrive as close to check-in time as possible. If the hotel has overbooked it will be the people who arrive later in the day who get walked away from the hotel. Getting there early helps to guarantee that you’ll get your room.
- Notify the hotel if you will be checking in late. Calling that day, especially if you are unexpectedly delayed by late transportation, to let the hotel know what time to expect you will help to secure your room.
- Join a hotel rewards program that offers hotel overbooking protection. That’s right, some rewards programs actually offer protections that help you to avoid this problem or to be financially compensated if it occurs.
What to do if the hotel sends you away
What if you do all of these things and you are still a victim of hotel overbooking? There are a few things that you can do if a hotel sends you away:
- Stand up for yourself. Before you leave the hotel, make sure that you’ve done all that you can to get the room that you booked. Speak to a manager. Ask for a phone number to speak to the regional manager. Clearly express that you are concerned that you are being walked from the hotel due to overbooking and that you’re not happy about the situation.
- Ask for assistance with locating new accommodations. The hotel should help you to find another hotel in the area that has lodging available for you. In fact, the hotel should make it easy for you to get to the other hotel and should actually even pay for your first night’s stay.
- Request a voucher to stay at the hotel in the future. If the hotel overbooked you then they are profiting. Don’t let them profit off of you. Let them know that you are concerned about overbooking and that you want a show of good faith in the form of a voucher for a future stay.
- Write a letter. If you do get sent away from a hotel due to overbooking then you should make sure to let the management know through a letter that you’re not pleased with the situation.
- Add comments to community review sites. It’s worth it to add your two cents and experience to sites like Yelp. Hotels that get frequent complaints about overbooking will stop having people book with them and they will have to fix their ways.
- You can sue the hotel. If the hotel does not help to remedy the situation and you have to pay out of pocket for new lodging then you may be able to get your money back by filing a claim in small claims court. Your agreement to get a room is a legally binding contract that the hotel must be held to.