If hotels and airlines could just cancel all the bookings they’ve received, so that they could then resell the flight or room at a higher price later on with no recourse, we’d be living in an awful world of travel. It would be carnage.
Why ever book a confirmed hotel reservation, if there’s no guarantee it will be honored and a hotel can just leave you stranded with no help if they get a better deal later on, or cancel it to charge you more?
Apparently, IHG thinks this is just fine, because the company continues to allow a London hotel, the Intercontinental O2, owned by the Arora Group, to laugh in the face of customers.
The hotel got a better deal, cancelled thousands of reservations and won’t even help members get their same rates honored at other IHG hotels in London, which they are bound to do, by IHG policy. Basically, the IHG booking guarantee is just a maybe, when it suits the brand, because it doesn’t want to aggravate one of its hotel owners.
Hotels And Loyalty Programs: It’s Complicated
Hotels are rarely owned by the loyalty program they are a part of. They’re typically owned by private investment groups, individuals or a mix of the two. Ultimately, each property is an investment looking to maximize revenue for all involved.
To do this, they turn to loyalty programs and turn the property into a known brand from a known hotel chain, which has huge marketing reach and baked in reservations from the millions of loyalty program users, to get more guests through the doors.
They are instantly plugged into millions of travelers around the globe, unlike a boutique which is instantly plugged into zero. Opening the doors to a brand new hotel and putting a sign that says ‘Intercontinental’ is going to create a lot more bookings than opening the doors and adding a sign that says ‘Gilbert Hotel’.
It’s not at uncommon for a Marriott Bonvoy hotel to become a Hilton Honors hotel, simply changing the names and signage, as the hotel owners look for the loyalty group which brings the most bookings with the lowest costs associated. It’s why Marriott’s CEO recently, blatantly, said hotel owners matter more than guests right now.
In other words, many hotels hate rewarding elite members of the loyalty programs they are a part of, but it’s a cost of business.
They also, from time to time, hate having to honor policies which are part of the brand guidelines, like reservation guarantees. A boutique hotel with no guarantee policy can be vicious and just cancel a reservation, perhaps at their own peril, or gain.
But as part of a brand with standards and guarantees, you can’t. IHG’s is rather simple, and the Intercontinental O2, owned by the Arora Group continues to believe that IHG will refuse to act to enforce its own policy, so the hotel is just blatantly ignoring it and hoping no one cares.
IHG clearly and simply states, if a hotel cannot honor a fully confirmed reservation for any reason, that it will help accommodate a guest elsewhere, and even says it’ll take care of the first night, on them, for the hassle.
Intercontinental O2 Hotel Continues To Refuse To help
Many readers have gotten in touch to say they abandoned all hope of a first night being comped on their unilaterally cancelled stays, which they should 100% be entitled to, and really just want their rate honored at a comparable hotel.
Still, the Intercontinental O2 refuses to do this, tries to send members to deal with IHG, and IHG continues to punt with inaction.
GSTP has viewed correspondence with numerous cancelled guests subsequent to the first article, when the hotel chose to boldly claim on Twitter that it was taking care of people. To be abundantly clear, it’s not.
The hotel correspondence since has been anything but helpful, and simply provides a list of hotels where once confirmed guests with locked in rates are welcome to make their own (new) reservations at current rates, without assistance.
- they’re not trying to relocate them at all.
- If they are, they’re taking no responsibility for higher rates.
- they’re just telling guests to rebook on their own at current rates.
One of our readers simply wanted to move to another Intercontinental at the same rate, with no comped nights or anything else. It was flatly refused on numerous instances.
Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten entangled in this, they’re blatantly waving the middle finger in my direction too, which isn’t going to make this quite as easy to sweep under the rug, as perhaps the Arora Group, which owns the Intercontinental O2, hoped.
“We treat our guests like royalty and our staff like family.”Surinder Arora, Founder and Chairman of the Arora Group
LOL. Perhaps that can be amended to “we treat our guests like royalty, unless we get a better deal, such as a government contract, and then we literally tell guest to go pound sand and refuse all guarantees of the hotel group we’re flagged under.”
Just Do The Least, Right?
Hotels that go above and beyond to recognize loyal guests or make things right beyond what’s required when things change (like cancelling reservations) are truly wonderful, but mounting cynicism through the years leaves me just hoping for the minimum required.
Just honor what few policies exist and are required, and anything better is simply a plus. It’s why this one is impossible to let go. Even for a cynic, this is a hotel waving the middle finger at the marketing and loyalty group it’s a part of (IHG) and profiting from, and also at customers who made good faith bookings at normal rates.
If IHG doesn’t step in to rectify the behavior of this hotel, it sends a clear message to all other IHG hotels that the IHG brand policies property they are supposed to honor, are truly toothless and customers can be left stranded at any time, without recourse. It will allow other hotels to treat customers with equal disdain, which means everyone loses.
Worse, it could allow hotels to simply swap prices on you at any time.
If you want to live in a travel world where you can book 355 days in advance only to be told at check in that the hotel wants to charge you double, and chose to cancel your reservation to force you to, then yeah, this is totally fine.