Travel guru Christopher Elliott has 5 tips for avoiding what he calls the “newest hotel scam.” It’s called “walking,” and it’s the hotel version of being bumped to another flight due to overbooking. What’s the scam? Well, travelers used to be offered a “comparable” hotel if theirs was overbooked — but lately, hotels have been trying to save a few bucks by booking guests in inferior hotels — and keeping the difference.
“Walking” is a practice that’s as old as the hotel industry. When a resort is overbooked, it typically sends a guest to a comparable property, covering the cost of transportation, a phone call and accommodations. But somewhere along the way – probably at the start of the current recession – the word “comparable” was conveniently dropped, and hotels quietly began sending guests to lesser properties.
It’s easy to understand why a hotel would want to walk a guest “down” when it’s overbooked. The property must cover the cost of your room when you’re “walked” and even though it often pays a discounted industry rate, it can save a few bucks by sending you to a lesser property and pocketing the difference.
So, what do you do? Elliott has a few tips than can help you negotiate to get the best alternate hotel possible — but don’t lose your temper. You’re at the mercy of the hotel — and the nicest guest may well get the best room.