Marriott overbooks and strands travelers

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Jun 13, 2018
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#1
Is it normal for Marriott to overbook and then turn away travelers when they show up to check in? We booked a room at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance for the First Robotics Competition World Championships for April 26 and 27, 2018. The room was booked directly through the Marriott website on April 3, 2018. We immediately received an email confirmation. We even received another confirmation email April 25th. However, when we showed up around 5:30 PM on 4/26, we were told they did not have a room for us. They admitted they overbooked and mentioned something about “walk-aways.” I’m not sure if that is the exact term they used because I was so upset.

We booked at this overpriced location because it was close to the COBO Center and we would be able to valet our car for two days and walk to the center for events. We would also be able to easily use our hotel room during the day if needed.

In lieu of the room we reserved in downtown Detroit, we were offered a room at another Marriott in Troy, MI, for the night of the 26th and told we could move to the Renaissance Marriott on the 27th, and they “guaranteed” they would have a room for us. We did not believe them after they had already blatantly lied to us. They gave us one free night at the Troy location, but we were 21 miles away and had to deal with parking and commute on a Friday in downtown Detroit. We opted to stay for both nights in Troy because we did not believe they would have a room downtown when we showed up. Liars lie.

This whole situation with leaving us with no room in downtown Detroit is unforgiveable. I am not satisfied at all with the way they responded to their intentional overbooking. I have gone on a Twitter tirade (public and private) and tried to get a refund for the second night. They offered me a 35,000 point deposit for their rewards program, which they said I could use for a free night sometime. The problem with this solution is I will never stay at a Marriott property ever again. I don’t trust them. I think they are vile to knowingly do what they did. They ruined our entire weekend and they just don’t seem to care. I just can’t get over how a service-oriented corporation does this to travelers. I want to make them as miserable as we were/are.

Is this overbooking a normal practice? Do I have any legal ground for a lawsuit?
 
Dec 12, 2014
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#2
Unfortunately, overbooking is a common practice in the entire hotel industry, especially when major events such as a convention or major sporting event occur. I doubt you have grounds for a lawsuit.
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
Overbooking can happen with hotels. Sometimes someone stays longer, sometimes a room may be out of commission, and sometimes the hotel overbooks thinking there may be cancellations.
It is not nice but it is not illegal.

Could you sue? Well anyone can sue, but I am not sure if there are disclaimers in the reservation process or an agreement for arbitration.

I think this happens at all major hotel chains, it is not pleasant, but it an industry norm.

You can try writing to the contacts so more compensation.

If you do write, I would advise not using terms like liars lie and such.
 

Neil Maley

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#4
What they did was “walk you” - they were overbooked and rebooked you at a sister hotel for one night and were ready to move you the next day.

They did what they were obligated to do by giving you a free night at the Troy hotel. Th If you had booked through an OTA you would have been on the hook to find a new room with the OTA which, when there is a big event, might have you stayed way further away.

What I would suggest is reaching out and write to Marriott and request reimbursement for the difference in price between what your original reservation cost and the cost of the new hotel. It won’t hurt to ask - the worst that could happen is they say no after you reach out to the Executives.

We have tab on our pages that says “Company Contacts”. Read the information on the page about how to write and ask for a tefund. Start at Customer Service and give them a week to reply. If they tell you no (and they probably will) write to the first executive listed - repeat weekly going up the chain.

Be polite, don’t call them “liars” - you don’t want to alienate them. Explain why the other location wasn’t adequate and ask for the difference in what you paid.

The worst they can say is no, the best is you find an executive that is willing to refund the difference. We’ve seen countless times where a well written letter gets results.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 27, 2016
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#5
If you had booked through an OTA you would have been on the hook to find a new room with the OTA which, when there is a big event, might have you stayed way further away.
Um, no. I've been walked when I was booked through an OTA. Booking through an OTA at a discounted prepaid rate might make you MORE LIKELY to be walked (since you're lower on the totem pole), but a reservation (prepaid or not) is a reservation, whether booked through a travel agent or directly with the hotel.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#6
I would also ask for the difference in transportation costs. 21 miles is a large distance from the original hotel and I would be upset as well. I would not have been so upset about distance if I was actually walked to a similar hotel, say across the street, down the block, etc.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Apr 18, 2018
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#7
Overbooking does happen. It is a calculated risk of how many people will cancel their rooms and how many people will "no show." Airlines have it easier as they have your money but most hotel rooms can be cancelled same day or within a day or so without penalty.
I worked in the hotel industry for a few years at the front desk. I never had to walk anyone but watched it a few times. It rarely ends up good for the guest. Guests on vacation benefit more than business guests. When I am on business, I really don't care about a free night. The money saved doesn't end up in my pocket.
I think you missed your ideal time for compensation that would help you. That time was when you were at the hotel being walked. If you wanted to park your car and take a taxi to the rebooked location and back, they would pay for that and not charge you for parking for the first night. I might ask for a suite the second night as a complimentary upgrade or maybe a couple free drinks at the bar.
For you to be guaranteed not to get walked you have to be a Marriott Platinum member and that requires 75 nights in a calendar year. I would listen to the advice given and avoid the word "liars." Your best card to play is that the hotel was 21 miles away at this point and a long drive during rush hour to and from the COBO Center.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#9
For you to be guaranteed not to get walked you have to be a Marriott Platinum member and that requires 75 nights in a calendar year.
FYI, they don't guarantee that Platinums won't get walked. If you're a Platinum, and book at least 48 hours in advance, they'll let you book a room, even if the hotel is sold out. If they do walk you, your night at the alternative hotel is free, and you get 90k points and $100-200.

https://www.marriott.com/marriott-rewards/member-benefits/guarantee.mi
 
Jun 30, 2017
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#10
Is it normal for Marriott to overbook and then turn away travelers when they show up to check in? We booked a room at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance for the First Robotics Competition World Championships for April 26 and 27, 2018. The room was booked directly through the Marriott website on April 3, 2018. We immediately received an email confirmation. We even received another confirmation email April 25th. However, when we showed up around 5:30 PM on 4/26, we were told they did not have a room for us. They admitted they overbooked and mentioned something about “walk-aways.” I’m not sure if that is the exact term they used because I was so upset.

We booked at this overpriced location because it was close to the COBO Center and we would be able to valet our car for two days and walk to the center for events. We would also be able to easily use our hotel room during the day if needed.

In lieu of the room we reserved in downtown Detroit, we were offered a room at another Marriott in Troy, MI, for the night of the 26th and told we could move to the Renaissance Marriott on the 27th, and they “guaranteed” they would have a room for us. We did not believe them after they had already blatantly lied to us. They gave us one free night at the Troy location, but we were 21 miles away and had to deal with parking and commute on a Friday in downtown Detroit. We opted to stay for both nights in Troy because we did not believe they would have a room downtown when we showed up. Liars lie.

This whole situation with leaving us with no room in downtown Detroit is unforgiveable. I am not satisfied at all with the way they responded to their intentional overbooking. I have gone on a Twitter tirade (public and private) and tried to get a refund for the second night. They offered me a 35,000 point deposit for their rewards program, which they said I could use for a free night sometime. The problem with this solution is I will never stay at a Marriott property ever again. I don’t trust them. I think they are vile to knowingly do what they did. They ruined our entire weekend and they just don’t seem to care. I just can’t get over how a service-oriented corporation does this to travelers. I want to make them as miserable as we were/are.

Is this overbooking a normal practice? Do I have any legal ground for a lawsuit?
Overbooking hotel rooms (esp. in a city) and airline flights is NORMAL business practice. Hotels and airlines have statistics telling them how many "confirmed" bookings will cancel at the last minute or no-show. To keep the rooms and seats full, they calculate how many overbookings to allow. If more than expected show up for a hotel room or airline flight, the ones who arrive when the hotel/flight is full will not get a room or a seat. This maximizes room/seat occupancy and generates the most income for the property. All the hotel chains do this. If you are staying in a small inn, you likely can be guaranteed not only a room, but a specific room #.

You certainly can discuss this with a lawyer, but since the monetary damages are small, a lawyer is very unlikely to pursue this on a contingency fee basis. You would need to pay upfront for the lawyers time (at $100s/hr), with absolutely no assurances that you would win anything. What the hotel did is standard practice and does not violate any laws that I know of.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#11
This was a horrible experience, jg, I'm so sorry it happened. My colleagues have given you a great deal of information, so now you understand how these things work. Usually, a big hotel will refuse checkin to guests booked outside their own website first. In your case, "everyone else" had already checked in, so you were the unlucky one. In my eyes, this is a nightmare for the guest, and I've always been concerned about it happening. You did everything right but were just unlucky. Little consolation, I know.

Since all hotels overbook and walk their guests, I advise you to accept the points they're offering and enjoy a free night on another trip. There's no joy in trashing Marriott because it could have been any hotel.
 
Likes: Riroon
Jun 13, 2018
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#12
Thanks all, lots of useful information.

When I say I will never stay at a Marriott property again, I am just being honest. I understand, it gives me no leverage, but I just can't support a corporation that purposely does this to customers. (And I won't lie to them, the points would be useless to me.) Somebody stated that we missed the ideal time for compensation. We were at the desk for nearly an hour trying to get them to come up with a better solution. They would not let us talk to a manager. They offered us the free night in Troy, but nothing else. Paraphrasing here, "you can take this offer or leave." I stepped away form the desk and called the hotel to try to get a manager, but the person I spoke to was of no more help than the front desk. With the time spent at the desk, and waiting for our luggage to be returned, and our car brought back from valet, and commuting, and checking in at the Troy Marriott, it was almost 10:00 PM before we got to our room. We hadn't eaten dinner yet, and we had to get up at 5:00 AM to commute, eat breakfast, and be on time for opening ceremonies.

I would have put down a room deposit, no problem, but it was not requested. Taking a reservation and turning away a traveler just seems like horrible PR to me, but I guess that is the world we live in today, the customer is always wrong and does not count.

I contacted Elliot because I found the column in my newspaper. I was hoping to find somebody to advocate on my behalf. I was redirected to the forum and wasn't sure what to expect. I appreciate the multitude of informative responses. I learned a lot from you all and will be more cautious in the future.

After 50+ years of staying in hotels, I learned an interesting lesson: a reservation is not a reservation. That was a new one on me. Thanks for listening to me ramble and vent. It sounds like nothing will happen because it's standard practice. I'll consider it a closed issue here.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#13
JG, I can understand your reluctance to stay at Marriott again. However we want to see you attempt to get them to pay you for the difference between the cost of your original cost vs. what the new hotel cost. I think you should ask for that- you have nothing to lose.

What we do here is help you advocate for yourself first but also educate you on the why’s things happen. We give you the tools to advocate yourself first and if you get all the way to the CEO with no help, if the writers think they can do anything else, they’ll try.

As you have said, you’ve been staying in hotels for over 50 years and this is the first time it’s happened. It’s very rare when it happens when you book directly - not so rare when you book through an OTA.

I still think you should write a polite bulleted letter with facts only asking Marriott to refund the cost difference between what you were to pay them vs. what the last minute cost you at the other hotel.

Try something like this:

- On xx/xx, I booked reservation number xxxxx to stay at your Marriott Detroit Renaissance to stay from xx/xx to xx/xx for a total cost of $xxxxxxx.
I booked very early because I was attending the First Robotics xxxxx and the Renaissance was
a recommended hotel for the convention.

- We specifically booked it due to the location so we would be able to stop in our room during the day to drop off items we picked up at the convention.


- I arrived at xx:xx pm on xx/xx and was told the hotel was oversold and I would be walked to your Troy hotel for the 26th and then could move to the Renaissance the 27th. First the distance was much too far and second, we were concerned if someone else extended their stay at the hotel an extra day or two, we might be walked again.

- We advised the hotel that this wasn’t acceptable and asked them to find us another hotel close to the convention enter. We were told they couldn’t do this.

-We hunted online and found another hotel, the Xxxxxx that had a room available. However, the last minute cost for this hotel was $xxxx, $xxx higher than our stay at the Renaissance.

- I am requesting that Marriott reimburse me $225 (or whatever the price difference was) between what I was supposed to pay for my Detroit Rennaisance and the cost of the last minute hotel.

- We specifically booked the hotel directly with through Marriott versus booking through an online travel agency to ensure we would have the best price and amenities and ensure we wouldn’t be walked. That didn’t happen.

I would appreciate it if you would consider my request. As a long time Marriott customer, it’s very disappointing that I did everything the Marriott way by booking direct and Marriott was unable to honor the contract I had with you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,




Give it a try and give the Executives at the company a chance to make it right. Let us know how you make out.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Even though we state that overbooking happens with other hotels it does not mean that we think it is a great idea.

And I would not be happy being moved 20 miles away which meant driving instead of walking to event. And I would not have wanted to move in the OPs situation — check out one time, check in another, disruptive.

I do think you should follow Neil’s advice.
 
Mar 17, 2017
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#15
Hello everyone, generic question based on what’s happened to this poor person. I would be so upset if this happened to me! I use the Marriott app and check in as soon as I get the notification that check in is allowed. I do this because I often arrive very late in the evening to hotels. Does anyone know, does check-in through the app guarantee I have a room? Or could they still give my room away to people who physically arrive before I do? Thanks.
 
Likes: Nancy and AMA

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#16
Hello everyone, generic question based on what’s happened to this poor person. I would be so upset if this happened to me! I use the Marriott app and check in as soon as I get the notification that check in is allowed. I do this because I often arrive very late in the evening to hotels. Does anyone know, does check-in through the app guarantee I have a room? Or could they still give my room away to people who physically arrive before I do? Thanks.
Nothing guarantees you’ll have a room but doing the check in through the app greatly reduces the chance.

Just remember, this is a rare occurrence. It happens more when you book through an OTA then when you book directly with the hotel.
 
Likes: Sweetiebeak
Aug 13, 2016
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#18
Though I have not been walked in many years, the two times I was walked was at Marriott Hotels. The kicker is that if you have a guaranteed reservation, and you do not show, they will charge you as a no show even though they don't have a room for you!

One solution is to get a hotel app like Marriott and check in early. If you check in and they have a room assigned to you, it should help prevent being walked. Not foolproof but much better than showing up after the rooms are filled!
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Apr 10, 2017
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#19
This has only ever happened to me once. In 2002 my husband and I booked an all inclusive vacation thru Vacation Express at a resort in Costa Rica. We used a brick and mortar travel agent to arrange the trip and everything was paid well in advance for a 1 week stay. When we showed up they admitted they had overbooked and arranged for us to stay at a different hotel for the night. We were set to return to the original resort the next day for the remainder of our stay. The other hotel wasn't all inclusive. We ate dinner at their restaurant and charged it to the room. When we got back to the first resort they tried to charge us for the dinner. I disagreed as we had paid for an all inclusive package (starting with dinner the first night) and we would have eaten the included dinner had they not overbooked and put us in a different hotel (breakfast was already included at the other hotel). We didn't drink anything other than water at the other hotel so it's not like we tried to charge a bunch of drinks. It took a lot of back and forth with escalation to a supervisor and a manager. They finally agreed to pay for the dinner. Having to spend so much time and effort to have that charge removed made me more upset than being walked.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,986
12,233
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
This has only ever happened to me once. In 2002 my husband and I booked an all inclusive vacation thru Vacation Express at a resort in Costa Rica. We used a brick and mortar travel agent to arrange the trip and everything was paid well in advance for a 1 week stay. When we showed up they admitted they had overbooked and arranged for us to stay at a different hotel for the night. We were set to return to the original resort the next day for the remainder of our stay. The other hotel wasn't all inclusive. We ate dinner at their restaurant and charged it to the room. When we got back to the first resort they tried to charge us for the dinner. I disagreed as we had paid for an all inclusive package (starting with dinner the first night) and we would have eaten the included dinner had they not overbooked and put us in a different hotel (breakfast was already included at the other hotel). We didn't drink anything other than water at the other hotel so it's not like we tried to charge a bunch of drinks. It took a lot of back and forth with escalation to a supervisor and a manager. They finally agreed to pay for the dinner. Having to spend so much time and effort to have that charge removed made me more upset than being walked.

Your travel agent should have fought in your behalf.