Marriott and Starwood flexible hotel rates: No more

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Booking Marriott or Starwood Hotels for a flexible rack rate in the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America?  You may be in for a surprise  A big company can be a trendsetter. Marriott and its Starwood company

You may be in for a surprise  A big company can be a trendsetter. Marriott and its Starwood company became a trendsetter changing free cancellation for expensive “flexible hotel rates” to make them less flexible. You now have to cancel 48 hours instead of 24 hours prior to arrival to avoid a one or two night cancellation fee.

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The world’s largest hotel chain announced on Thursday that customers must give at least 48-hours notice if they plan to cancel a reservation — or cough up a fee equivalent to one night’s stay.

Up until Thursday, guests were generally allowed to cancel reservations without a penalty up until the day before their visit.

“Guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation by midnight 48 hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a fee,” Marriott International (MAR) said in a statement. The new policy applies to hotels in the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America. Marriott added that the change will not apply to Design Hotels, which are independently owned, and Marriott Vacation Worldwide hotels.

A handful of Marriott hotels already had a 48-hour or 72-hour cancellation policy in place prior to the company-wide decision, according to Allison Sitch, a Marriott spokeswoman. She said that some of those hotels with a 72-hour cancellation policy will continue that practice, and some that had previously maintained a 48-hour policy have switched to a 72-hour cancellation policy.

Marriott explained that the change will help out customers seeking reservations on short notice, adding that hotels with a one-day policy were left with “a significant number of unsold rooms” due to last-minute cancellations.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.