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HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel That Sold Your Room to Someone Else

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 6 Columbus Circle [map], New York, ny, United States
May 22, 2008 at 10:32 AM | by | ()

Last week we received a distress call from one of our friends who had just arrived after long cross-country flight in New York to the Six Columbus Hotel.

Our friend had actually booked the hotel after reading about it in our HotelChatter Reader Deals when Quikbook was offering 10% off two nights or more. He paid $360 a night for four nights in a queen-bed room.

Yet instead of being whisked away to his room to relax, our friend was pulled aside by the General Manager and over a complimentary drink at the bar, was told that the hotel did not have a room for him.

Naturally, our friend was shocked. Where was he going to go? How would he get there? The GM's only explanation for the lack of a room for our friend was this:

Sometimes people don't always check-out when you want them too.

Riiigghhht. That's really just hotel-speak for "We oversold our rooms tonight."

HOWTO: Deal With a Hotel That Sold Your Room to Someone Else

#1. Stay Calm: Getting fired up may make it hard to think rationally, causing you to forget steps 2-5.

#2. Request a Comparable or Better Hotel: This is in the contract for all hotels who list with Quikbook. But regardless of how you book, you should be compensated for your troubles.

#3. Make the hotel pay for any transportation costs to and from the new hotel: If they are going to haul you off to another hotel for the night or the rest of the trip, make the hotel pay for it.

#4. Ask for an upgrade to a better room or to a suite: This may not always be available but the hotel should be bending over backwards at this point to keep your business.

#5. Call the booking company: However you booked, call the company to let them know the hotel you booked had oversold your reservation. The booking company may give you a voucher or a credit for your troubles. Additionally, if the hotel is not cooperating with you, the booking company may be able to mediate on your behalf.

Much like airlines, hotels can oversell their rooms on any given night. We weren't quite able to narrow down the explanation for what happened with our friend but when we were looking for a hotel room in New York the same week our friend was to stay there, Six Columbus' website was offering rooms for about $600 a night. Quikbook had rates of $389.

So you can understand that if someone came in and booked a room off the Six Columbus website for $600, that reservation could bump out a lower-paying Quikbook customer. It shouldn't happen and again, we're not saying that it did happen to our friend but that's a pretty good example of overselling.

Whatever the reason, our friend was stranded. But not for long. The GM said he would put our friend up for the night at the Bryant Park Hotel. The hotel would pay for the cab fare there and back the next day, when Six Columbus would have a room open.

Our friend was a little peeved. Bryant Park is on the opposite side of town. Getting in and out of a cab again with luggage again is annoying. Yet when our friend arrived at BPH, he had been upgraded to a junior suite. Things got even better. When our friend returned to Six Columbus again he got an upgrade to a king-bed room.

We spoke with Brian Hendricks, Director of Information at Quikbook.com, about the situation and he said that Six Columbus (and other hotels who sell with Quikbook) are contractually obligated to place a customer in a comparable or better hotel when overselling happens. The hotel is also responsible for paying transportation costs to and from the hotels.

For good measure, we say always call Quikbook or whichever booking site/company you used and let them know of the situation. In this case, our friend called Quikbook to tell them what went down and was given a Quikbook voucher to use for another hotel booking.

After he checked-out from Six Columbus(ahem, on time when he was scheduled to), our friend walked away having pretty great rooms at two great hotels.

Have you ever had your hotel room oversold before you even checked-in?
Let us know what happened.

Archived Comments:

Re: HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel

Getting what hotels call "walked" when your room's nowhere to be found is the worst. Thank goodness your friend's flight wasn't cancelled last minute at the airport, too. Way to go Six Columbus. Hospitality isn't dead.

deal with it

Get over it - people get walked from hotels all the time. Any smart manager that hopes to sell out has to overbook their hotel on a regular basis because people no-show or checkout early, or make reservations for June 10 when they really need July 10. Sometimes people really don't check out (you cannot legally throw them out), hotel rooms get damaged by guests and cannot be sold. Pipes can burst, a/c units do fail, it's not a perfect world we live in. Usually it balances out, but often it doesn't. Unfortunately it's the last person to arrive who is surely tired and cranky from traveling "cross-country" that gets walked.

As long as the hotel tells you politely with a little white lie (the best are "the guest didn't check out" or "a guest left the tub running and flooded the floor" it COULD happen, right?) and gets you a room at a similar hotel, don't be upset.

Sounds like this person hit the jackpot, too. I'd rather stay at the Bryant Park any day over a Thompson property. By the way, the Bryant Park Hotel is about half a mile from 6 columbus or a 2 minute cab ride, not even close to "the opposite side of town."

Re: HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel That Sold Your Room t

i agree that i would rather stay at BPH than 6Co. and i agree that our friend totally hit the jackpot. i was amazed he even went back to 6Co.

BUT i disagree on your statement about location.

for a lot of us, going to NYC and picking hotel is all about location. if you had biz in times square and your hotel was oversold and put you on the upper west or upper east or downtown, you'd be pissed because that's extra commuting you have to do.

Also, the cab ride from BPH to Six Columb is probably not two minutes. Maybe at 3am and your cabbie is on meth. those are some of the most trafficked streets that you are going across in midtown.

also, am going to be a nerd: 40/5th to 59th and bway=1.3 miles. manhattan's widest width is 2.3 miles.

Re: HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel That Sold Your Room

Great tips! Strangely, being walked can work in your favor. Two examples: My dad was booked at the Las Vegas Hilton for a jewelry show but they overbooked (it's close to the convention center where the show was), so they had to walk him over to a brand new, just opened hotel on the strip called the Venetian (needless to say, this was a few years ago). My property once had to walk a couple to another hotel, but when they came back we gave them one of the top suites in the house. Their response? "We're so glad you oversold the hotel, otherwise we never would have been able to stay in such a nice room!"

Re: HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel That Sold Your Room t

Sounds like everything worked out in the end. Kudos to the 6 Co folks for handling the situation so well. ("Over a complementary drink" is a nice touch.) And I'd have to agree with rule #1 here... You're not gonna get treated right if you act like a lunatic.

Re: HOWTO: Deal With A Hotel That Sold Your Room t

midtown west is midtown west - they could have been shipped off to another Thompson hotel, like 60, or Gild Hall waaayyyy downtown. I surprised they didn't try to keep the guest inside the chain.

Good for me

Getting an upgrade is a positive. Having a longer commute is definitely a negative. It's certainly better for the hotel to do all that is possible to make sure that the guest has a place to stay (equal or better value) and make sure that they have transportation at least to the new destination to smooth things over.

its true

Sometimes when the front desk says "someone didn't check out." they aren't lying.

Hotel brands like Marriott, starwood, and Hilton have rewards programs that keep track of how often you stay at a specific brand and offer points and gifts to customers at certain levels. When someone at the top level decides they want to stay another night when the hotel is sold out of the evening the front desk is not allowed to say no to them.

On the brightside most major hotel chains have a reservation guarentee and will find you a room at the nearest comparable hotel, free of charge.

The only time I would worry about it is during large conventions and sports events. Entire cities can sell out and over sell.

Just never say "this should never happen!" It does, often. And it usually is never the fault of the poor soul standing at the desk.