Hotels commonly offer two types of reservations to their guests:
- Prepaid/Guaranteed Reservation – You give the hotel a credit or debit card number in exchange for the hotel’s promise to have a room for you no matter what time you arrive to check in at the hotel.
- Confirmed Reservation – You do not pay for the reservation in advance, and therefore you do not have a guaranteed reservation. Rather, you merely receive a confirmation of your reservation from the hotel, either by email, fax, or mail. Often, the hotel will put a condition on your reservation (for example, “We will hold the room for you until 7:00 pm).
What If a Hotel Does Not Honor My Reservation?
This depends on whether you had a prepaid/guaranteed reservation or merely a confirmed reservation:
- Prepaid / Guaranteed Reservation – If the hotel fails to honor your reservation, the hotel has breached a contract and must do everything possible to find you another room, even if it means sending you to another hotel. If the alternate accommodations are more expensive, the hotel is responsible for the difference, as well as the cost for any related incidentals (i.e. travel or phone calls to notify others about your change of plans).
- Confirmed Reservation – The hotel must honor your reservation unless you fail to meet the conditions of your reservation, if any. If you meet the conditions and the hotel nonetheless does not have a room for you, then the hotel must do its best to find comparable accommodations for you.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Contract law can be quite complicated. If you believe that a hotel has breached its contract to honor your guaranteed reservation, speak to a contract attorney. An attorney can help a party conform to the applicable procedural rules in the proper state and collect all the appropriate documents to prove a breach.