Home Hotels Hotels Are Back To Playing Games With Award Availability

Hotels Are Back To Playing Games With Award Availability

by joeheg

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.

Cover Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Island Miler June 28, 2022 - 5:32 pm

The Hyatt Centric Waikiki and Andaz Maui never stopped playing games with availability – even during the pandemic. Hyatt also continues to turn a blind eye to these kinds of shenanigans. To me, Hyatt seems to be the most egregious when it comes to award availability games.

Mateo June 28, 2022 - 5:54 pm

IHG always gives you the cheapest room they have if you book with points. They never allow you to buy up to a better room with points. That’s why I’m moving away from them.
Hilton is great because you can always use points to buy up to a better room.

Robert D June 28, 2022 - 8:28 pm

This has happened to me several times. I go ahead and book the handicapped-accessible room and then I tell them at check-in that I don’t need a handicap room and they have always just put me in a regular room.

Lauren Marsh June 28, 2022 - 9:53 pm

Actually, you book the room and if you see a disabled guest, then you let them know you had no choice. If they got the shaft, they have a much stronger case against the hotel with an ADA lawsuit (source: me an ADA attorney). Those will cost the hotel much, much more than having released a decent amount of award investory..investors… ADA settlements are usually in the mid to high six figures!


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