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When Marriott decided to revamp its loyalty programme to include hotels that were previously part of Starwood Preferred Guest, it could hardly have imagined that its new name would become a hashtag, for all the wrong reasons… #bonvoyed.
One might think that a stable IT system would be the highest priority for a travel company reliant on online bookings, but it seems that Marriott is still struggling with its IT systems and ignoring member complaints as “noise at the edges”. The latest problem I’ve come across can be called a “zombie” reservation. i.e. something you thought was dead, but subsequently comes back to life.
The other day I checked into a Marriott Bonvoy hotel. I had been attempting to make a Best Rate Guarantee claim but the BRG desk was being difficult. This meant that I would book a room, then cancel it after the BRG claim was denied (in order to start again with a new booking). Finally a BRG claim was approved so I knew that I ought to pay a £45 room rate. Except the front desk clerk insisted the rate was £65. After some frantic typing, he realised that I had two live reservations for the evening. I knew that this was impossible and used my phone to show the clerk the cancellation email for the more expensive booking. The clerk then cancelled the duplicate reservation on the hotel’s system.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me. Back in September an award booking I had long-ago cancelled miraculously came back to life on the day of arrival. Luckily I noticed this almost immediately and cancelled it straight away, to no apparent harm.
Nonetheless, the same thing happening twice makes this more than a random glitch and I subsequently discovered a Flyertalk thread with many complaints similar to mine. Sometimes… on the day of arrival – AFTER THE CANCELLATION DEADLINE – reservations that you had cancelled are being reinstated!
What to Do About It?
- ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS keep the email confirming the cancellation of your booking for at least 2-3 months after your expected arrival date. It is the only proof you will have should the hotel charge your credit card as a no-show.
- Use a credit card (not debit) to guarantee your reservation. You want to have the maximum amount of consumer protection should the hotel charge you an unjustified no-show fee but be unwilling to reverse this later.
- Monitor the “My Trips” section of your Marriott Bonvoy account. If any cancellation hasn’t processed correctly, you want to know about it before the cancellation deadline.
- Use the Marriott Bonvoy App. My recent “double booking” did not show when logging into my Marriott Bonvoy account from my laptop, but it did show up on the Marriott App.
- Use an E-mail Address that Gives You Push Notifications on Your Phone or Browser. I know that it is annoying to have your phone buzzing and beeping for every piece of junk email from a hotel chain, but, because I received an email notification I was able to immediately notice that my September award booking had come back to life.
- Tweet or Otherwise Contact Marriott Bonvoy in Writing. Unless these problems are logged, Marriott will never realise it needs to fix the problem. You also will want a paper trail if you are charged as a no-show.
The Bottom Line
Managing the IT requirements of a massive organisation isn’t easy. But Marriott Bonvoy seems to be doing a particularly poor job. So, make sure to do whatever you can to avoid being #bonvoyed by a Zombie reservation.
Has this ever happened to you? Let us know in the comments section.