Over the past year, we have seen hotel move to further restrict their cancellation policies on “Best Available” rates. These are rates that are traditionally flexible, with free cancellation if you do so before check-in. Even up to a few years ago, you could cancel with no penalty up to 6 pm the day of check-in with many hotel chains. However, in 2015, Marriott and Hilton both imposed a new, 24-hour cancellation policy. In July of this year, IHG also moved from a “6 pm day of” policy to a 24-hour policy.
Marriott (and Starwood) announced a new, 48-hour rule back in June of this year, while Hilton announced that they are also rolling out similar changes in July. Now Hyatt is joining Marriott/Starwood and Hilton in imposing a new standard 48-hour cancellation policy. This new rule will apply to all bookings made on or after January 1, 2018.
Interestingly, Hyatt is making exceptions for certain elites. Specifically, World of Hyatt Globalists and Explorists will still be allowed to cancel without penalty up to 24 hours before their stay. Now, in certain cities or destinations, hotels already have tougher restrictions on cancellation (like a 3-day or even 60-day cancellation for some resorts), so this “benefit” for elites will not apply there.
Hyatt says that the change will allow them to “offer rooms and upgrades to rooms that would have otherwise gone unoccupied,” which I guess is theoretically possible. But of course, those who will are actually eligible for upgrades still get the 24-hour policy, so I’m not convinced that elites will see much difference in practice. This change will mean reduced flexibility for certain customers. But for those who are ultra price-conscious and already book “Advance Purchase” rates that are fully non-refundable, this new rule won’t really make an impact.