As part of being part of a major hotel chain, properties need to play by the rules. That may mean giving preference to the most loyal customers, providing a welcome gift or a better room. It also means the hotel must let guests book rooms with points or free night certificates.
While hotels have no choice but to agree to the terms, if they want to stay in the chain, it doesn’t mean they like it. In fact, some hotels will do everything they can to skirt the rules, only relenting if a guest reports them.
There are many stories of hotels denying perks, refusing reasonable requests and even lying to guests about the rules. One of the most common ways hotels ignore their responsibility is to play with room inventory. By putting rooms aside for frivolous package deals, hotels can “honestly” say that there are no base rooms available for award bookings. And by creating extra room classes, they can call a room on a higher floor an “upgrade.”
But there’s one game that I hate the most when it comes to booking award stays. It’s when a hotel makes award space available, but only for handicapped-accessible rooms.
For example, I searched for an IHG hotel in New York City. Now that you can add points to book a room with the free night from the IHG Preferred card, I can look for any property in the city. I found a hotel with space available that fit our needs. It wasn’t until I got through the process of picking the room type that I noticed my only choice.
When I unchecked the handicapped icon, the award space disappeared.
When I toggled from points to cash, there were plenty of available rooms.
There’s nothing wrong with limiting the number of rooms available for rewards. According to this post by One Mile at a Time,
IHG Rewards Club has no blackout dates on reward nights, but does have capacity controls. What this means is that some number of standard rooms will be made available for award redemptions every night, but that doesn’t mean that all standard rooms are available for award redemptions (as is the policy with Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt). In other words, if a hotel has 100 standard rooms, it could choose to make just 10 of them available for reward nights.
But why do hotels leave handicapped-accessible rooms available for awards? The only reason I could think is that they want to appear in the search results. While some guests would rather find a different place to stay than stay in a handicapped-accessible room, others might decide to pay for a room instead of using points.
As much as it bothered me, I booked the handicapped room. I’m not complaining about the roll-in bathroom with the wet-room floor, non-standard furniture and lower bed. Instead, I hate that someone who needs to use a handicapped-accessible room will be told this hotel is sold out because the managers didn’t want to release a base-level room for award availability.
When you choose to be a part of a chain, and it is a choice, you sign up to follow the program’s rules. That shouldn’t mean that you’ll take all the benefits while simultaneously trying to find whatever way you can to sneak around the edges and keep from providing the benefits promised to the customers.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary