Marriott Cancelling Reservations Booked During College Football Championship

Last month the Marriott Courtyard was cancelling reservations booked coinciding with the Texas A&M game this September. Now the Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown New Orleans is cancelling rooms booked during the college football national championships.

They say they’re oversold for January yet are allowing guests to rebook at a different rate. That’s the piece here that’s suspicious.

It’s good that they’ve organized other rooms. As of this writing there are Marriott rooms available the night of the championship game. If the Fairfield overbooked they need to walk guests, covering the night(s) they cannot accommodate those from whom they’ve taken reservations and provide additional required compensation. They should stay within the Marriott chain:

  • Westin New Orleans Canal Place: $577
  • The Saint Autograph Collection: $891

I don’t think this hotel studied Seinfeld well enough to internalize what reservations are for.

By the way this isn’t uniquely a Marriott issue (so don’t say guests are ‘Bonvoyed’) when the Durham Hilton pulled the same scam Hilton corporate backed them up.

However when a guest makes a mistake on a non-refundable bookable, or even in the case of the St. Regis Aspen has a flight cancelled, they may be stuck with thousands of dollars in extra charges. At a minimum the treatment of bookings ought to be reciprocal.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Looks like there are lots of people getting Bonvoyed. We had a reservation at the Le Meridien Ra outside Barcelona in June and got a similar email cancelling the last two days of our reservation. We booked the room 9 months in advance, and they gave us two months notice. It turned out they wanted to rent out the entire hotel to a private party. This is the email we got:

    Good afternoon Mr. xxxxxx,

    Due to a mistake in our reservations system, you have been able to make a reservation for the last two day of your stay.

    We regret to inform you that the nights of the 3rd and 4th of June are not available and we propose the following options:
    – Change the reservations date and come 2 days earlier : 30st May until 3rd June and we will be pleased to upgrade you to the Suite Prestige
    – We will book the last two nights, 3rd and4th of June in one of our hotels in Barcelona and we will arrange the transfer there to.
    – Cancel the reservation
    We are very sorry for the inconvenience it may causes you and ask you to reply the soonest possible to solve the issue.

    Best regards,
    Milda van den Berg
    Reservations Supervisor and Service Manager

  2. Kind of defeats the purpose of a reservation or reservation system if you book a room that latter sells for too much so they don’t want to honor it. I think this is poor customer service. Even if it was just that it happened to be overbooked by accident (which doesn’t seem to be the case) then they should have already secured reservations at a nearby hotel. This should also be communicated on a customer by customer basis. Instead, this is a just a mass form email to anyone who managed to book the room far in advance before they could change the rates or prior to renting the rooms out in bulk to a group.

  3. I’m confused. The 3rd paragraph says reservations will be canceled next week, but the 4th paragraph says if you do nothing, then status benefits still apply and a walk is possible, suggesting that the reservation will be intact.

  4. Cookie cutter “Breach of Contract”. European Directive applies. The “victim” can look forward to thousands of euros in compensation, in addition to rebooking at a similar property at no cost.

  5. Can you please cover more the legal angle, does the guest have an open and shut case to get compensation or sue?

  6. @tim well it looks like you’ll get a stay at the W in Barcelona… certainly tell them thats the “acceptable” solution.

  7. This is a very bizarre letter from the hotel. More information is needed. Are they charging guests high rates to make the move to the other Marriott properties in New Orleans (I assume they are, but I can’t tell from the letter). If they’re “honoring the rate” at the other hotels, I don’t have much of a problem with what Marriott is doing. But if they’re going to charge these guests, say, 2x, that’s a huge problem. In that case, I personally would tell the hotel to pound sand — especially since they’re not actually saying that they are cancelling the reservation. Just that you MIGHT be “walked” to an inconvenient location. BTW, is there any law that governs this kind of thing: like would the hotel have to pay for your roundtrip Uber to the “inconvenient” location? Would any other damages be available?

  8. As with most things, when a business deal includes two humans, breach of contract has repercussions for both parties. When a business deal includes a corporation and one of millions of customers, a breach of contract carries far less consequence for the corporation.

    But we all know the free market will penalize bad actors, right?

    Bueller?

    Bueller?

    Bueller?

  9. You could rewrite it something like this:

    We are writing to let you know that at the time of your booking a very unfortunate error occurred. Marriott Reservation System allowed your room to be booked at the regular rate even though the Fairfield Inn and Suites intended to engage in aggressive price gouging. We also intended to require a one night deposit which we would absolutely keep even if you die in the meantime. We have since corrected the error by deciding to dishonor your booking.

    At this point we have arranged for a handful of rooms at a few other properties more or less in the New Orleans area where about six of you could stay, but only if you accept our dishonest practices by Aug. 23. As our least valued guests, we hope you are naive enough to take us up on this. If you refuse to relocate, we will ship you off to somewhere in Oklahoma at your expense, where you can watch the game over beers with fans of the Sooners, and celebrate their national championship with them.

  10. In light of all these reports of customers getting Bonvoyed (aka screwed) and upcoming peak award pricing devaluation, it’s time for me to cancel that Ritz Carlton card I had been keeping.

  11. @DaveS Brilliant! My favorite line:

    “We also intended to require a one night deposit which we would absolutely keep even if you die in the meantime.”

  12. DaveS – smart thinking. It seems obvious that they forgot to program the reservations system to raise the prices for the game. And now they hurt the people who made legitimate reservations.

  13. I’d like to repeat what an earlier comment requested – I’d love to know more about the legal angle, and how does this play with Marriott’s “guarantees” to guests in particular who have status. If I remember right, if they can’t provide you with what you booked, you’re entitled to cash compensation, a bunch of points, etc. Is that in play here or are they somehow trying to claim that this was a “glitch” so none of those entitlements apply? Really interested in the “breach of contract” angle as well. I’m not big on litigation, but if ever there was a “breach of contract” between a Corporation and an individual I would think it would apply to a situation where someone booked a room at an agreed-upon rate and when the corporation realized they sold it too cheaply they tried to weasel out of it.

    Frustrating that so many are content to just complain about getting “Bonvoyed” as though having a sour attitude about it and then doing nothing is productive. That’s what Marriott wants – take their licks and move down the road with a pocket full of cash. I’d rather see someone do something about it and give them at least a little fear of having to be accountable.

  14. I’m also very interested in the legal angle. I suppose they have a clause deep in their boilerplate language saying they can cancel for various reasons. But even if they have a clause that says we can cancel for any reason or no reason at all, in my opinion they would be quite liable for lying and saying it was due to a computer error. I would be quite sure that discovery would show a lot of emails saying something along the lines of what DaveS wrote above.

    One idea: The suit would not be based on the contract, but on reliance. Guests would claim they relied on Marriot to be truthful and honestly deal with their reservation but they lied and mishandled it, hence they should be liable for the losses born by the guests in finding a new equivalent place at a higher price.

    By the way, I discovered that this is an issue with AirBnb as well. You think you’re being smart making your reservations for a busy weekend far in advance, because last minute rates for that weekend are through the roof. But then the host suddenly cancels with no explanation.

    Whenever you book, click through to see if the host has canceled people’s reservations before.

    It’s the same as Uber drivers. You book your car at the airport, wait 10 minutes and when the guy is 2 minutes away he cancels because he got a flat tire. And look, when you go to get another car it turns out surprise surprise, surge pricing is in effect and it will cost you double.

  15. What is the point of having a reservation (and reservation system) if the reservations can be cancelled at will by the hotel?

    Hypothetically a hotel can cancel my $200 night reservation and re-book with someone who is willing to pay $400 a night, only to turn around and cancel that guest and re-book for another guest willing to pay $1000- a night.

  16. Let your wallet speak for you. Don’t stay at the chain and start to write terrible reviews of the property.

  17. >As with most things, when a business deal includes two humans, breach of contract has repercussions for both parties. When a business deal includes a corporation and one of millions of customers, a breach of contract carries far less consequence for the corporation.

    >But we all know the free market will penalize bad actors, right?

    You can answer that. Are you more or less likely to stay at a property knowing they do no honor reservations when they can find someone else to pay a higher rate?

  18. I just received the exact email this morning from the “Fairfield by Marriott New Orleans” GM and I am a Titanium and lifetime plat. I am going to provide a review for this hotel and I’m canceling my Chase Marriott cards today.

    I would like to see what legal rights are available or what happens if I do nothing!

  19. I am a platinum member, and this happened to me at this very location. I booked a year in advance, and I’m certain that they are “overbooking” and cancelling the lower-priced reservations. I will most certainly be filing a complaint with the BBB, plus plenty of bad reviews. Marriott should honor their reservations. This is bad business practice.

  20. Matt W. I agree. I’m not Titanium, but I am Platinum and stay at Marriott properties exclusively every week for work. Well. I used to. I’m cancelling my card, and rebooking my business travel for the remainder of 2019 immediately.

  21. At the risk of piling on, let me add my own Bonvoy experience this summer. I used a 7 night cert at the Hanbury Manor in Ware outside of London. I made the reservation in October 2018 and the stay was in June 2019. Upon arrival, the manager pulled me aside and said they could not honor the last two nights of the stay since they had rented the entire property to IBM. He asked me to book any other property for those nights using my points and he would replenish my account. After reviewing Marriot policies, I reminded him of the $200 and 90k points for their reservation guarantee (I am PL Elite). He said they would honor that also. I rebooked using points. As of this writing (2 months and numerous phone calls and emails later), I’ve not yet been compensated for the two nights points nor the 90k points for guarantee. I essentially paid for the two nights twice. You would think they would go out of their way to make things right for people who willingly change their reservation so they can make more money from a corporation, but that isn’t the case.

  22. I received the same, I ignored the email. I then received a CERTIFIED LETTER from the hotel with a copy of my cancellation. I called to complain, but that was months ago and never heard a word. No points, no compensation… nothing. I’ve been Titatium (platinum) for 7 plus years.

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