7 On Your Side:Reserve Your Right To Cancel - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

6/25/07

7 On Your Side:Reserve Your Right To Cancel

For Kim and Steve Hunt, juggling kid and work schedules can sometimes mean last minute revisions to their travel plans like having to cut vacation short.

"We ended up staying I think a night or two and the third night then we tried to negotiate where we didn't have to pay for it all," says Kim who had to cancel their hotel stay.

It used to be that you could cancel reservations up to the day of check-in with no penalties.

But internet travel expert Jim Gilden with The Internet Traveler says these days, those offering accommodations aren't quite that accommodating.

"More and more hotels these days are going toward having some sort of penalty if you cancel too late," says Gilden.

Those penalties can kick in days before your scheduled arrival! And be aware, if you've booked more than one room under a single reservation, you may need to cancel each room individually to avoid hefty fees.

Some hotels even weigh each request for a cancellation on its own merit so hotels in the same chain may charge different amounts.

Gilden adds, "Even on the same website for the same hotel for the same room for the same night, the cancellation policies can be different."

So what can you do to protect yourself? Gilden says the cheapest room rates have the worst cancellation policies. So consider paying a little extra if your plans could change.

Also, sign up for frequent guest programs.

"For some of our more valued clients and our repeat guests, certainly we would be much more lenient," says Kim Cartaino, Assistant General Manager for Marriott Hotels.

Most importantly, read all the fine print especially if you're booking on the web or through a travel site!

"When travelers make a reservation online, they're on their own. They have to make sure they fully understand what the policies are for that reservation," says Gilden.

The Hunts don't want to get stuck again, so when it comes to booking future reservations, they say they'll do their research.

"For me it turns into an incentive to make phone calls. There's not a lot of flexibility," says Kim.

Something else to keep in mind, travel experts say internet-only rates are often the most restrictive.

You usually have to pre-pay the full amount and regardless of when you cancel there's a penalty which gets larger the longer you wait.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

 

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