The Chicago Tribune’s Cost of Canceling is in the Fine Print highlights cancellation policies at Expedia and other sites. The story reminded me of some basics hotel travelers should keep in mind when making and canceling hotel reservations.
Know the cancellation policy before you book. When you make your reservation, whether by phone or online, make sure to hunt down the hotel or web site’s cancellation policy. And remember that cancellation policies may vary depending on the rate you choose. For example, super-cheap Internet rates can have no-cancellation rules written right into the fine print. Paying slightly more for the same room might give you more flexibility.
Call the vendor first. If you have to cancel your reservation, your first point of contact should be the company through which you made your reservation. If you made a reservation through Travelocity and you discover you have to cancel it at the last minute (say, because your flight got delayed or canceled), call Travelocity’s customer service before contacting the hotel directly.
Keep important customer service numbers on hand. When traveling, it can be a big help to have customer service phone numbers for airlines, hotels and online travel agents. If you get stranded at the airport, you can get help with your contingent travel plans and reservations as efficiently as possible.
Cancel the whole reservation. When you cancel a hotel reservation for multiple days or with multiple rooms, make sure to confirm with the company that you’ve actually canceled everything associated with the reservation and not just part of the trip.
Ask for a cancellation confirmation. When you do cancel a hotel reservation, print out the cancellation confirmation you receive online or ask the customer service representative to send you a copy via email or regular mail. This will be helpful if charges still end up on your credit card.
Lastly, my advice when canceling a reservation is to do it over the phone. I find that making reservations is easiest online, but I have less confidence in canceling them that way. I’d rather speak to a person who can tell me what, if any, cancellation penalty charges I am responsible for and when they will appear on my credit card.