What to do when your hotel is overbooked

Nobody wants to travel hundreds of miles to discover their hotel room hasn’t been reserved. Find out more about what you can do in the event your hotel is overbooked.

Sometimes the demand for something outweighs the supply. During peak vacation times, it’s not uncommon for a hotel to overbook its accommodations. But what does this mean for the weary traveller? While there aren't any legal requirements in place, different hotel chains have various forms of recourse in the event of an overbooked hotel.

What to do when your hotel is overbooked

Ask to get another room nearby

A situation involving the overbooking of rooms is usually handled on-the-spot. Some hotels may provide an alternate hotel, meaning the customer will be escorted to a neighbouring hotel at an equal or complimentary rate. This is made possible because different hotels often maintain working partnerships with each other to take advantage of their proximity when alternate arrangements need to be made. Feel free to request this immediately should your hotel be overbooked.

Sometimes the “walking order” is determined by loyalty tiers. For example, if you’re part of that hotel chain’s loyalty program, you might be given top priority for a new room. Sometimes the hotel will even pick up the cost of your fare to get to the other hotel, but it’s really up to that hotel’s specific policies and local industry standards.

Ask for an upgrade or rebate

Another common way some hotels resolve the situation is by either upgrading the individual to a bigger/better room at the same rate as their reserved room. If that is not possible and you must be downgraded to another room, make sure your bill is adjusted to the lower rate.

What else can you do?

If you find yourself in the situation of an overbooked hotel, you have the following options:

  • You can accept whatever solution the hotel offers you.
  • If the hotel offers you a downgrade, be sure to ask for the lower rate and maybe even extra compensation.
  • If you don’t feel like the offer is fair, you can try to negotiate a better offer.
  • If the person at the front desk doesn’t want to negotiate, ask for the manager.
  • If the manager refuses to negotiate, you can get on your cellphone and try to find an alternative that will better suit your needs.
  • If you arranged the hotel reservations through an agent of some kind, submit a formal demand for reimbursement for the alternate room or a formal complaint. You can also try to fight this in small claims court, but this will require time and money, as the verdict could take as long as six months to be decided.
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