Hotel Cancellation Fee Explanation

It’s said that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so RWA is providing a graph of the RWA2015 hotel room-block usage to illustrate a solution to what many think is a problem.

bell curve

Many will recall that in 2015, RWA’s room block at the Marriott in New York sold out within a few days. Rooms were added at two nearby hotels, and those rooms quickly sold out, too. But, if you look at the graph above, you will note that the final number of rooms used by conference attendees was substantially lower than the number of rooms contracted.

By sharing this information, we hope attendees will see that what appeared to be a shortage of rooms was not, in fact, the case. Again, referring to the graph, the actual number of rooms in the contract with the New York Marriott Marquis was very near the number of rooms used. So, why were members told that rooms were not available? Because until six weeks from the start of conference, all rooms had been sold, and the hotel policy allowed members to cancel reservations (without penalty) up to 72 hours prior to check-in. This policy inadvertently encouraged members to hedge their bets by reserving rooms they might not need and hold onto them for months. During this time, many attendees made other arrangements, most often to share rooms with fellow attendees.

Hotel contracts impose penalties if groups request more rooms than they actually can fill. Last year, for the first time in 21 years, RWA paid a penalty. It was small ($870), but it was an unnecessary expense and a waste of RWA’s assets. Beginning this year, RWA is going to encourage members to finalize their plans earlier by imposing a penalty for cancellations after a specified date.

Reservations cancelled the assigned date, will be assessed a cancellation fee of $100 per reservation in addition to any cancellation fees charged by the hotel. Penalties for cancelling hotel reservations after the assigned date, will be waived for attendees who qualify for refunds due to serious illness or death (see P&PM 8.6.1.2).

This cancellation date after RITA and Golden Heart finalists are announced, and history indicates that most members know if they plan to attend the conference or not. Our hope is that no one will be assessed the penalty; our hope is that members will identify roommates sooner and release rooms in time for other registered attendees to reserve them at the discounted room rate.