To say that 2020 is NOT the best year for travelers can be an understatement. It was such a dark time for the travel industry. Our lives were put on a long pause. Our travel plans were halted. Some hotels and travel organizations had shut down. But hey, we survived it and we’re now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, if you’re asking if it’s okay to travel this year, the answer might still be a 50-50. While the vaccines are on the horizon and the travel bans and restrictions are more relaxed, they’re not enough to let our guards down. The new COVID-19 variant in the UK is proof that anything can happen in a flash, and we should be ready to cancel our plans anytime… again.
So you’re still thinking about making your travel plans happen this year? Get yourself some peace of mind by having the flexibility in your hands. We list down 8 tips and tricks to avoid hotel cancellation fees.
1. Reserve a refundable, cancellable hotel room
The best way to avoid cancellation charges and get your money back is to book a refundable property in the first place. No matter how attractive the deals are, always be on the safer side and look for properties that can give the most flexibility. Before clicking “reserve now”, read their policies and make sure you can cancel, reschedule, and get refunds when an emergency hits.
2. Book directly with the hotel
While the hotel rates in third-party hotel booking sites are usually cheaper, there’s a huge advantage you can only get when you book directly with the hotel: flexibility.
If you already feel like you might need a last-minute cancellation, avoid booking via third-party sites where it will be harder to get your money back when you try to cancel. When you book directly with the hotel, you have the opportunity to call the property directly, speak with the manager, and make special arrangements, like moving your stay to a later date instead or simply waive the fee.
3. Try to cancel your reservation 24-72 hours before your check-in time
Gone are the days when you can cancel a hotel reservation a couple of hours before your arrival. Today, more hotels are safeguarding their revenues against no-shows and cancellations by having a stricter cancellation policy.
If possible, don’t wait until the last minute. Cancel your reservation 24 to 72 hours before your check-in time to avoid cancellation fees.
4. Speak with the manager politely and wisely
Okay, so an emergency gets in the way of your trip and your supposed check-in time in your chosen hotel in Waterford is in less than 24 hours. Don’t fret — you can still do something to avoid cancellation fees.
One of the most effective ways is to reach out to the hotel directly and negotiate. This is where booking directly with the hotel pays off. Speak with the right person: the manager. They have the authority to waive your cancellation fee.
Provide a truthful yet good reason. Don’t say you’re attending a funeral even if you’re not — they can sniff out a lie. Just be honest, but use the right words.
5. Don’t play dumb
Another tip is to avoid playing dumb. Don’t pretend you never knew about the cancellation fee. Instead, explain that you understand the policy and request to make a “one-time exception”. This shows that you don’t expect them to constantly bend the rules for you.
6. Reschedule your trip
You might be able to offset the fee by negotiating a future stay.
Call the hotel as soon as you know you need to cancel it. Give the customer service agent your reservation number, then ask them to move the date forward a few weeks or months. In most cases, you can do this at no charge.
Don’t forget to ask the customer service representative’s name and write it down.
7. When all else fails, try this lifehack
Disclaimer: I read this lifehack somewhere and I haven’t tried this trick so it may or may not work.
A few hours after successfully rescheduling your stay, call back in. Ask for the name of the customer service agent and make sure you’re speaking with a different representative (not the one you talked to earlier). Ask to cancel the reservation you just made. Since the new reservation is now way in advance, it can be canceled with no fuss and fees.
8. Sell your reservation online
Assume the worst: you can’t cancel a hotel reservation that’s already been paid for plus there’s a fee. The worst thing you can do is to give up and accept that you lost tons of cash for something you can’t use. There’s still a couple of ways to avoid being charged the rate for one or two nights. You might not get all your money back but it’s possible to get a percentage of your money back to cover the fee.
You can sell your reservation online. Websites like Roomer link guests who have last-minute cancellations, to guests looking for last-minute deals at a discount. It’s a win-win reservation for both parties.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a free-spirited damsel who loves documenting her adventures. Her fondness for travel, food, and cultural appreciation makes it easy for her to write inspiring pieces of content about them. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Viking Hotel Waterford.