Business travellers may start booking away from Marriott’s brands because of its change in cancellation policy, according to a global survey of buyers.
Last month, Marriott implemented a new cancellation policy across its US properties requiring guests to give 48 hours notice to avoid a fee – instead of the previous 24-hour notice period.
But the move has not gone down well in the corporate travel industry, according to a poll carried out by the Business Travel Coalition of 216 travel buyers and TMC executives in 12 countries, including the UK and Ireland.
Some 59 per cent of respondents said that the move was likely to encourage travellers to book away from Marriott’s brands. Only 21 per cent said the new cancellation policy would have no effect on bookings with Marriott.
The poll also found that 30 per cent of buyers were considering changing their travel policy to restrict their travellers from booking Marriott properties as a result of the change.
More than two-thirds (68 per cent) said they would seek to negotiate an exception for their travellers to the 48-hour cancellation policy in their next contract with Marriott.
The survey also revealed that the majority of buyers (53 per cent) expected other hotel companies to “follow Marriott’s lead” when it came to extending the cancellation period.
“The policy change seems to some as a huge overreach and particularly burdensome for business travellers who have little to no control over when a customer or prospective customer cancels a meeting the day before,” said the Business Travel Coalition.
“Taken together, there appears to be an opportunity for Marriott’s competitors, especially Hilton, to win new business.
“The most prevalent theme in the extensive comments provided by respondents is a sense of great disappointment in Marriott whom many thought understood the needs of business travellers and managed travel programmes.
“With weeknight room occupancies high in business markets, and with Marriott’s forecasting and booking capabilities enabling it to replace cancellations, many feel the new policy is merely a money grab.”