a large dome with many towers

Many readers have gotten in touch about their bookings being cancelled by the Intercontinental London at the 02. These are almost all cash bookings, were not made on any special or crazy rate, and were all confirmed for reservation with IHG.

The hotel’s reason for cancelling was perfectly legitimate, but their subsequent handling of stranded guests has been a lethargic embarrassment, which willfully and knowingly denies IHG’s core, long standing policy for what happens to a guest booking if a hotel becomes unavailable for any reason.

Frankly, unless it’s rectified, it’s hard to believe any IHG reservation is “confirmed” until you actually get into a room, no matter how early you book, or how much you paid. It’s not impressive and the lack of communication has been even less so.

IHG’s Rebooking Policy

IHG, like most hotels, has a clean cut, red tape free policy for what happens when a confirmed reservation can’t be honored. It’s not necessarily a “walking a guest policy” but actually a reservation guarantee policy.

These policies exist specifically to give weary travelers a point of confidence, knowing that even if a president makes an impromptu appearance and the hotel can no longer honor a reservation, it’ll make it right, every time.

Here’s IHG’s policy in its simplest, terms as per the IHG website

“Booking on IHG.com is the best way to guarantee your room. If for any reason your reservation cannot be honored, IHG will provide you with a room and transportation to another convenient and comparable hotel. And, we’ll pay for the full cost of the first night’s lodging price, plus tax. Any advance deposit will be refunded to you.”

IHG Rewards

In short, your reservation will be honored at another IHG Hotel, or similar property at another hotel group and IHG will pick up the tab for the first night as an apology. You’ll also be eligible to claim reasonable expenses for the transportation from one hotel to another, if the cancellation occurs when you’ve already arrived.

a large dome with many towers

Intercontinental 02 Knowingly Avoiding What’s Due

Recently, a GSTP Premium member who happens to be an IHG Spire Ambassador as well, had a lovely suite booked at the Intercontinental O2 in London’s Greenwich area. It’s a great hotel I’ve stayed at before and never had any issues.

After the reader made a reservation at IHG.com, The hotel chose to become a quarantine hotel, likely because the economics of the contract work out better than the hit or miss level of reservations and revenue being experienced at the moment without business travel. That’s totally fine, good on them.

What’s not fine, is that the hotel, is trying to flout the crystal clear rules and guarantees of the IHG brand, despite numerous attempts from the reader to rectify the situation under the IHG guidelines. Every response is met with vague denials or disregard.

Another Intercontinental hotel in London has a similar room type available for the duration of the dates, which would theoretically be the easiest solution for the hotel since it’s in the IHG family, yet they’ve denied every attempt to switch over. Talk of a refund of the first night’s charges have also been avoided in every communication.

Sadly, this is another example of a hotel trying to have its cake and eat it too, at the detriment of its hotel group. Being a part of the IHG Group presents huge marketing reach and “baked in” reservations from corporate channels. Hotels join onto these big chains to get more bookings and make more money.

It comes at the cost of issuing points and perks on stays to loyal guests like our reader, but the overall benefits always outweigh the minor costs. Sadly, this reader never got any points or perks, just a ditched confirmed reservation for which the Intercontinental O2 still fails to provide any recourse.

double decker buses on a street in front of a large building
Image by Alfred Derks from Pixabay

Reading Loyalty Lobby, it’s clear that it’s not just our readers, but hundreds of others who are experiencing the same unnecessary dramas with this hotel. It’d all be totally un-newsworthy if they just honored the crystal clear policy, popped displaced guests into another Intercontinental in London, or similar equivalent and went on their way.

Instead, the hotel chose to play dumb, then proverbially disconnect the phones, then go into hiding, and that’s subsequently lead to lots of negative coverage, and likely a lot more to come.

The hotel had every opportunity to rectify this clear cut situation privately, so no advance warning of this post was given to the brand, so as to level the playing field for every day readers who deserve better, without as much social reach.

Intercontinental 02, you’re welcome to get in touch, and we’re happy to connect you with our unhappy loyal IHG Spire Ambassador, who just wants what’s clearly due via IHG policy set in internet stone.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I’m a bit shocked at this behaviour to be honest. I’m a years long IHG user and this doesn’t sit well with me at all. Looking forward to seeing this cleared up for this customer and others (and I’m just looking into booking for a few days in London too amd started with IHG.. hmm maybe switch to Hilton)

    1. I certainly hope they rectify this. Perhaps more importantly, I hope they (broader IHG) reopen an actual flowing customer contact center, where people aren’t reading off a script with no discretion to make things right. The reader made multiple attempts to contact IHG and might as well have been talking to a chat bot. We’re at a point of inflection on the topic of customer service costs and savings opportunities, as they balance with customer needs. I too hope they get it right, because it’s otherwise a good hotel and solid program.

  2. It is not just IHG doing this! My wife and I booked the Sofitel T5, through BA hotels site, for 30th. August coming, where we were due late evening on a flight from Chicago with no onward flights available. Although we had not received notification from the agent BA. Bookings.com I read on the HfP blog that the Sofitel is a quarantine hotel and gas been since April. BTW we still have not been informed that the hotel will not accept our booking.
    I informed BA.Bookings of the Sofitel status and the reply was ‘we’ll see if our agent will allow cancellation and refund’ with no offer of alternative accommodation. This notification was followed by an email which said ‘we have cancelled your booking and refunded your payment…etc’.

  3. Did IHG and O2 promptly respond to your challenge?
    Asking for a friend who’s soon travelling in the UK.

    (The article reads a bit like IHG hasn’t been humping your “super travel influencer” leg hard enough recently … just saying)

    1. ? If you were a reader of this blog, you’d know that GSTP self funds all stays specifically for the point of impartiality. Can’t say the same for others.

  4. I had the same experience when I booked the voco St John’s Hotel in Solihull for the end of August. They phoned at the end of June with a mere apology and no offer of assistance in finding me alternative accommodation. A very poor experience with IHG, that’s for sure!

  5. I’m pretty sure the walking policy is for when you show up to the hotel and there isn’t a room available. Not for when advanced cancellation is given. Sounds like no damage was indicted on the reader and they could easily book a comparable hotel at a similar price and are just looking for a handout.

    1. Geez, that’s a pretty funny take on a policy which specifically states ” Booking on IHG.com is the best way to guarantee your room. If for any reason your reservation cannot be honored, IHG will provide you with a room and transportation to another convenient and comparable hotel”

    2. I am inclined to agree with the original post here. That the ‘walking’ policy only applies if and when a guest shows up and the room is not available on the day. Why else would transport costs be included?

      1. You can be inclined to anything you like in life, but it doesn’t make you correct. These policies are specifically designed to eliminate hotels trying to engage in bait and switch pricing, where they offer great rates, cancel, and then force you into new, higher walk up rates. The transportation applies only if you’re physically at the hotel, but the rest is steadfast regardless. Every hotel group offers similar guarantees.

        Please, before you make another inclined assertion, think about what travel, and or pricing would be without these. It would be a bloodbath.

  6. Booked O2 for an event at Excel for 6 nights in Autumn. Called me last week to say that it’s cancelled, all other hotels in the area are now fully booked. I asked whether they would offer me IHG points in compensation, was told that they would speak with the manager and call me back. Never did. Thanks for posting the policy link, useful to know! IHG Spire Ambassador

  7. Walking a guest is not the same as cancelling a booking in advance. It is inconvenient but surely there’s loads of other options available?

    1. Find me an IHG policy which states that any IHG reservation you make can be cancelled by the hotel without the hotel having any responsibility. You won’t find one, because no one would book with IHG if that were the case. What kind of precedent would that set? Make a booking with IHG, and maybe we’ll have a room for you, unless a better offer comes around?

      Hotels, like airlines, cannot accept reservations and then do nothing when they get a better offer or don’t want to host it. That’s why a clear policy exists that IHG has to make it right, if “for ANY REASON” they cannot accommodate the reservation.

      1. But airlines can cancel without compensation – as long as it is 14 days out from departure (EU carriers that is)

        1. Outside of 14 days cash compensation is not due, but you are still due new flights at no additional cost or a refund. Otherwise, like hotels, they could constantly bait and switch people to new (higher) fares. They have to accommodate you.

          They must legally give you YOUR CHOICE, not their choice, of either a refund in full, or alternate flights, even if they’re on non partner airlines. Legally, reimbursement, re-routing, or return. That’s what’s being accomplished here. In my opinion your assertion is dangerously incorrect as to passenger rules. Here’s the actual law from the EU reference.

          “The airline must offer you, on a one off basis, a choice between:

          the reimbursement of your ticket and, if you have a connecting flight, a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity
          re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or,
          re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats.

          This applies for all tickets regardless of when it was cancelled. Inside 14 days, a cash compensation is also due.

  8. I had the same thing with a June booking, also staying would have got me the free night 40K Cert (for renewing AMB) and also meant I would not have missed out using my wkend free night stay, what with UK banning anything close to travel since the dinosaurs.

    I rang O2 spoke with front desk manager and said erm relocate me and pay difference if you will not abide by brand standards any cover first night at Park Lane (was double nightly cost).

    I just hung up on the infuriating woman emailed Ambassador crew. Said what had happened and basically said give 20K points for screwing me. Points were sat in my account within 36 hours.

    Not perfect, but better than Wasting time ringing the useless call centre in Philippines. I always speak with hotel in 1st instance for anything, then Amb crew.

  9. When it comes to dealing with “Issues” IHG really do have a bury our head in the sand stance!

    Just recently asked IHG for a list of Hotels in the UK that have EV chargers (Electric vehicle charging points) this was for the new Porsche Taycan Owners Club website I am working on, the reply was comical.

    I read your e-mail and I’m afraid the list of our hotels in the UK with installed EV charging station is not yet available in IHG® Rewards Service Center. I’d suggest calling or sending e-mail inquiry to the hotel directly to confirm if they have EV charging installed at the property.

    I get the feeling that nobody really cares at IHG.

    As for the IHG DEEP CLEAN TO PROTECT YOU blah blah… do not get me started!!

    Great Promos, Good availability, and always get spoilt in SEA but when things go wrong IHG is useless.

  10. Exactly the same happened to me – I’m a Spire Ambassador, had a confirmed reservation booked months before – and was dumped. I specifically asked about IC PL or Kimpton Fitzroy and didn’t mention getting first night gratis but the hotel and IHG refused to budge. Understand how hard things have been but loyalty means nothing & a written policy is a policy. I was surprised and disappointed that they didn’t offer anything at all – even an upgrade or something on a future stay, and yes I did ask!

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