Hilton’s New (Temporary) Booking Policy Is Excellent

a pool in front of a building
The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos - Image courtesy of Hilton

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Back on 12 March Hilton made a customer-friendly change to its change/cancellation fee policy when, amongst other things, it added all the EU countries to the list of destinations where change and cancellation fees are being waived and where refunds are being offered. As of yesterday, that policy got even better.

Yesterday’s announcement from Hilton was dominated by the news that the hotelier is adopting a very generous status extension policy for Hilton Honors members who are set to lose their status at the end of this month and members who have already earned status through March 2021 so I completely failed to notice that Hilton also put though two changes to its booking policy – one is good while the other is excellent.

Hilton Extends Waivers For Existing Reservations

Up until yesterday, Hilton was only waiving cancellation fees for existing reservations with arrival dates on or before 30 April 2020. With only a little over a month left to that deadline and with the current crisis not showing any signs of going away Hilton has extended that deadline to the end of June.

 All reservations—even those described as “non-cancellable” (“Advanced Purchase”)—that are scheduled for arrival on or before June 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day.

In a nutshell, this means that if you have an existing Hilton booking (of any kind) for a stay commencing on or before 30 June 2020 you can cancel it for a full refund with no penalty.

Hilton Extends Special Booking Period For New Reservations

In an attempt to stop future bookings from drying up completely, Hilton had previously announced that any reservations made by 30 April would be cancellable for a full refund regardless of how far in the future those reservations were for.

Essentially what that meant was that Hilton’s customers would be able to book stays through March/April 2021 (the dates will vary by property) without having to worry about what would happen if circumstances forced them to cancel.

That was great news if you were looking to book a winter ski break, a stay in the southern hemisphere or a stay in a country where it’s warm year-round, but it wasn’t particularly helpful for anyone wanting to visit large parts of the northern hemisphere where the weather doesn’t get better until May or even June.

Yesterday that changed.

Hilton has now extended the booking period during which all future bookings will be fully refundable (regardless of the rate being booked) through to 30 June 2020 so, with a sizeable proportion of Hilton’s properties available to book a year in advance, Hilton fans will now be able to book trips into summer 2021 without having to worry about flexibility or cancellation fees.

Here’s how Hilton put it:

Any reservations you make—even those described as “non-cancellable” (“Advanced Purchase”)—that are booked between today and June 30, 2020 for any future arrival date can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival day.

Right now, most people don’t appear to be comfortable making plans for travel much before January 2021 so this newly updated policy will give a lot of people a much larger travel window than they originally had as well as giving them a considerably broader selection of destinations they can travel to where the weather will be good.

This is a great move by Hilton and one that deserves quite a bit of praise.

Bottom Line

When Hilton first announced that it was extending cancellation fee waivers to more people, freezing points expirations, and considering what to do with elite status qualification, I couldn’t help but feel that the hotelier had been semi-forced into those moves by an earlier announcement made by IHG…but now Hilton has lept to the fore of customer-friendliness.

Hilton is the first of the 3 major hotel loyalty programs to extend elite status for its members, it was the first to extend the expiration dates of its free night certificates (Marriott followed suit very quickly thereafter) and it now has the most generous booking policy of all three major loyalty programs too – Hilton Honors members should be pretty happy with the program right now.

Featured Image: Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos courtesy of Hilton