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Are Mondays 'Cancellation Days' at Hotels?

March 14, 2011 at 8:38 AM | by | ()

Are your chances of getting a room at a booked-up hotel better if you call in on a Monday? HotelChatter investigates....

Recently some family members were shacking up at a hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. when, mid-stay, they asked the front desk about adding a few more days to their reservation. Thinking it wouldn't be an issue, they were bummed to hear that the hotel was sold-out for the next several days.

But there was a glimmer of hope as the front desk told them to check back on Monday (they requested the additional days on a Saturday and were set to check out on Wednesday.) The reason being, according to the front desk was that Monday was when all the cancellations were called in, particularly from travel agents.

We've never heard of this sort of "cancellation day" before. At first, we were skeptical. Why did travel agents wait until Monday to do this? Wouldn't they just be calling the cancellations as they came in? Then a part of us got excited--did we just stumble upon a new trick for getting a room at a supposedly sold-out hotel?

Not quite.

We asked Stacy Small, the president and founder of Elite Travel International travel agency about such a cancellation day to see if this was true. But she told us she's never heard of such a thing before.

We only call in cancellations as they happen....[there's] no way to know in advance if/when clients will cancel bookings although we occasionally have clients asking about cancellation policies so they can cancel in time to avoid penalties if needed.

A better explanation, Small said, was that agents may have had a block on rooms for an event and that the block would expire a few days before the event began. This explanation actually makes the most sense as it was the NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and hotels throughout the city, even as far west as Santa Monica were showing up as sold-out.

However, Small added that using a travel agent in this instance would actually help your chances of getting a room during a busy weekend or big event because not only are travel agents cultivating personal relationships with general managers and other employees at hotels, they are also in touch with other travel agents.

"We have a lot of other resources," she said when it comes to getting these highly coveted hotel rooms.

Still, we found ourselves wondering if there was a good way to get a room at a booked-up hotel on our own, aside from checking the hotel's online reservation system every five minutes.

One of our employee friends at a large hotel in NYC said that Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days for reservations questions at his hotel because guests tend to finalize their travel arrangements on those days. So rooms could open up on those days but remember, they can be booked again just as fast too.

Our employee friend also said that he will extend a guest's stay when space is tight if the guest is either a frequent guest, a member of the hotel's loyalty program or if they booked directly through the hotel. He added, "But my number one rule for anything--just ask nicely." (We've heard this advice over and over from hospitality folks so maybe it does work?)

Of course, sometimes a hotel is really sold-out and there's nothing that can be done. Asking again on the supposed "cancellation day" didn't work for our family and they checked out on Wednesday as planned. Sad face. We blame the NBA groupies.

Got any different tips on how to get a room in a booked up hotel? Drop 'em in comments below!

[Photo: Lcstravelbuggin/Flickr]

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