| Chicago Tribune Article | What To Do When Your Hotel Doesn't Have Room -


Published on's President & Founder Stephen Barth was recently featured in a Chicago Tribune article, written by travel columnist Christopher Elliott. The piece discussed vacation cancellations that followed the recent East Coast power outages and high heat. The article addressed what to do when your hotel doesn't have room for you.

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  1. 1. TRAVEL Front Page News Sports Business Entertainment Opinion LifestyleHome > Featured Articles > HoustonWhat to do when your hotel doesnt have room Ads By GoogleJuly 17, 2012 | By Christopher Elliott, Tribune Media Services | The Travel Troubleshooter Recommend 0 Tweet 3 Share 3 0 Cheap Hotel ReservationsThe deadly storms that left large swaths of Save $15 on Hotels w/ Coupon Code.the East Coast without power just before the Book at CheapOstay® For Low Rates!Fourth of July holiday provided anuncomfortable lesson to hotel guests like Ken Always call to confirm yourreservation -- especially when the place yourevisiting is reeling from a natural disaster.White lives in Charlottesville, Va., an areathat was hit hard by the hurricane-force (Spencer…)winds. Many residents were struggling to staycool in record-breaking heat, and checking into an air-conditioned hotel nearby was apopular solution.Ads By GoogleMitt Romney and GST SteelTrying to save a closing plant Learn the truth about GST Related Articles Cost of canceling is in the fine print April 22, 2007 When online bookings go bad . . .Maybe a little too popular. September 9, 2007"I made reservations at the Hilton Garden Inn for Sunday and Monday night," saysWhite, a college marketing professor. "My credit card was charged, and I was given a Letting The Internet Do Your Biddingconfirmation number by Expedia." January 9, 2000But when he tried to pick up his room key on Sunday, a hotel representative said that Web Sites Offer Lodging ReservationsWhite didnt have a reservation and turned him away. The Hilton, like all the other hotels December 10, 2000in the area, was fully booked.Getting to the bottom of Whites reservation problem was only slightly easier than finding Find More Stories Abouta hotel room in Charlottesville after a power outage, it turns out. For starters, White sentme a complaint and then vanished. Repeated phone calls and e-mails to him went Houston
  2. 2. unanswered, which can happen during a popular vacation week -- or when portions of ExpediaCharlottesville remain without electricity for more than a week. Online Travel AgencyAn Expedia spokeswoman said that the online travel agency wouldnt comment on Whitescase unless I provided a confirmation number. I contacted Hilton for a statement, and it,too, refused to say anything at the corporate level, deferring instead to the hotel Whitehad tried to stay in, which it said is a franchise property.Finally, I reached Eric Pfister, the general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn inCharlottesville. He confirmed the details of Whites story. Pfister said that on Saturday,June 30, in the wake of the massive thunderstorms, his 124-room hotel quickly sold out.The Hilton Garden Inn connects to Expedia through an electronic reservations system,and it also receives faxes from the online travel agency as a backup. Hiltons system wasshowing the property as fully booked for Sunday and Monday night, but for some reason,Expedia didnt get the message. It continued to confirm reservations and send backupfaxes, which were piling up fast."It was a bad situation," Pfister says.Hilton tried to contact Expedia, asking it to stop accepting new reservations. Eventually itdid, but the hotel had to turn away nine guests the next day, including White.Its unclear whether this was an isolated problem or whether other Hilton propertiesworking with Expedia were affected by the reservations system glitch. With this newinformation from Hilton, I again asked Expedia whether it could help me understand howthese surplus reservations happened. It declined to comment.When a hotel cant accommodate a guest because its overbooked, the standard industrypractice is to send that person to a comparable hotel and to pay for the first nightsreservation. That would have happened to White and the other displaced customers,except that there were no available rooms in the region.Ads By GoogleHoliday Inn HotelsBest Price Guarantee at Official Site - Book Today & Save!www.HolidayInn.comThe Ritz-Carlton Club®The Ritz-Carlton Club® offers world-class luxury residences.www.RitzCarltonClub.comIn such cases, a hotels options are limited, says Stephen Barth, a professor of hospitalitylaw at the University of Houston and founder of the website Aproperty can still accommodate a guest by setting up a rollaway bed in the lobby, whichsometimes happens during a natural disaster. It can also rent rooms in eight-hour shifts,giving guests a chance to freshen up, or it can allow them to use the showers at the pool."Overbookings like this tend to happen at large events, like the Super Bowl or Formula 1,"Barth says. "Theyre usually caused by guests overstaying their reservations, but they canalso happen after a natural disaster, like a hurricane on an island with a limited number ofhotel rooms."The best way to avoid being turned away, he says, is to take a couple of preventivemeasures. White could have sidestepped the situation by booking directly through theHilton website or by calling its reservations number. (Whites confirmation contained anExpedia confirmation but didnt have a corresponding confirmation from Hilton, accordingto Pfister.)Also, Barth says, "always contact the hotel and confirm the reservation." Thats particularlyimportant when youre booking through a third party, such as an online travel agency.When your stay falls during a major event -- a college homecoming, a large convention oreven a big storm, all of which can affect hotel occupancy rates -- double-checking is a must.Had White called the Hilton Garden Inn, he would have known that he didnt have a room,and he could have phoned Expedia to re-book him elsewhere or made other plans.
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