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Hilton and Marriott Announce Strict New Fees for Last–Minute Cancellations

Just as Cinderella had to high tail it home before the stroke of midnight, from January 1st on, travelers heading to a Hilton or a Marriott property will have to remember to cancel their reservations by 11:59pm local time on the day prior to arrival. Those who don't make that deadline won't be changed into a pumpkin, but they will be charged for a full nights' stay. This new policy will include those Hiltons and Marriotts that allow travelers to cancel up until 6pm on the day of arrival without penalty today. It's likely that those properties that require even earlier cancellations to avoid penalty (48 or 72 hours) will stick with those deadlines. Hey, why leave cash on the table?

When discussing the change with Joe Sharkey of the New York Times,  a Hilton spokesperson had the temerity to state "We’re making this change so we can provide you with a more consistent booking process and make more rooms available for when you need last-minute travel accommodations."

Ah yes, of course. You're charging travelers an extra fee for our own good!

Journalist Barb Delollis, on her blog Travel Update, quotes a Marriott representative stating “While the intent for this change is not to collect more cancellation fees, our desire is to sell rooms that would have otherwise gone unoccupied due to a guest’s last minute cancellation.” So glad to hear that it's not about fees, just about doing business.

Never mind that the hotels made a record $2.25 billion in fees and surcharges in 2014, according to industry expert Bjorn Hanson (of the New York University Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism).

So let's play "make up the new hotel fee", why don't we? What additional fees should hotels be adding?

Perhaps an "elevator pass" fee that allows users to zip directly to their floors, leaving other guests wondering why the doors won't open? Or maybe a "get dry" fee for towel usage at the swimming pool (this would be on top of the $40 resort fee). And since hotels charge fees for guests to enter their rooms, perhaps they should be charging for the right to leave, as well. That could be easily accomplished by simply installing credit card swipe technology right next to the door.

Be careful about chuckling out loud as you read this blog, if you're in a hotel. I can't remember which chain it is, but they're considering charging guests for having fun in their rooms, I hear.

(Photo of the Washington, DC Marriott Marquis by Tim Evanson/flickr)