Marriott - please consider offering your elites the ability to cancel all bookings without penalty and without question.
I avoid non-refundable travel bookings but I am often working very fast and occassionally I accidently book the wrong code. Marriott gives the individual hotel the option of cancelling the reservation or not. I did it again and called the hotel directly. I explained a collegue is traveling in my place and would be making his own reservation. The young man took far too much of my time explaining he would transfer the reservation but not cancel it. Of course, I do not know the credit card of my collegue and he cannot cancel my reservation. Furthermore, apparantly the hotel is full so if he simply cancelled the reservation, he likely would book it again at a higher rate. He left me angry with Marriott. Not the result you need.
At the risk of alientating other MRIs, I must come down on Marriott's side on this one. Every non-refundable rate I have seen on Marriott Hotel individual websites is for less money than the regular rate, so there are advantages on both sides for paying on booking. However, every one I have seen also says "non-refundable if cancelled more than 1 day after booking." Presumably therefore, that should cover any mistakes the customer might make when booking.
Yes, they could arrange transfers of bookings, let elites cancel without penalty, give points for a no show if payment has been made etc. But they don't, and as far as I am aware, neither do other hotel chains or airlines etc. To be fair to Marriott, it is all there in their T&Cs. It isn't their fault if we make a mistake, or go for the cheapest rate then have to cancel or change our travel plans without the back up of travel insurance.
I have to agree with tommo781. Non-Refundable Rates are pretty clear on the reservations website. You get a larger discount if you book this rate in advance. I have found that in many cases if the AAA rate is available it is very similar to the Non-Refundable rates and they can be canceled. I try to avoid the Non-Refundable rates as travel plans can always change unexpectedly.
I agree with you -- unless 'refundable' rates have a really early cancellation rate (for example, my stay in Santorini in two weeks was 'refundable' when I originally booked it, then saw that I had by tomorrow to cancel it -- so I changed it to nonrefundable at a cheaper price). When I stay at a hotel that offers AAA refundable rates (usually cancellable up until 6pm of the day of arrival), I always choose that option.
In the case of Santorini, I know I am going and have a great Alitalia free business class flight booked, so it seemed silly to choose the refundable option. But I was burned once for a major amount when I was supposed to stay in Toulouse and my plane broke in Boston and couldn't get me there for three days -- during fall break noless -- so it's only under very unusual circumstances that I will choose a nonrefundable rate.
I also agree. I've had to change reservations at least half a dozen times just this year. Most were due to switching dates, but some were outright cancellations. Unless I'm 100% certain of my plans (which is almost never true) I'd rather pay a little extra to have to option of being able to cancel.
I agree bejacob. Although I don't travel for business anymore, we do make a few trips in the UK. There is usually no need to take out travel insurance, except to cover cancellations. So we never book the non-refundable rate, then if any emergency does happen, we can cancel.