Stuck Holding the Bag


A June 30 Wall Street Journal column by Scott McCartney noted the alarming trend of non-refundable rates for hotels booked on travel deal sites such as Expedia, Travelocity, or Orbitz.  No one wants to pay too much for a hotel, especially when a better deal is available.  More importantly, though, you don’t want to be stuck holding the bag if travel plans must change with hundreds or thousands of dollars invested in a trip that won’t be happening.

I often find it useful to look for rates on hotels at deal sites for business and personal travel.  I am always leary of making a commitment that requires a pre-payment for travel or hotels.  With young children and a working husband, I never know when I may have to adjust my travel plans due to illness or family obligations.

When planning a trip to Chicago this summer, I shopped for a hotel on a travel deal site and then directly contacted my preferred property, asking if they would match that deal which was a couple hundred dollars less than the hotel’s own publically advertised rate.  I was pleased to find that I could book my reservation without pre-paying, I would receive reward points from the hotel (which I wouldn’t have received booking with the deal site), and that I could receive the courtesy of the hotel’s regular 24-hour cancellation policy. 

In this case, a little extra work gave me a lot of piece of mind.  Fortunately, the trip went off without a hitch!

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