What To Do With A Non-Refundable Hotel Room: The Definitive Guide

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It’s likely that you have come across this problem yourself: you book a hotel room for an awesome event or holiday in advance to get the cheaper option. You feel like you have to book far in advance because you want to secure your spot and get that deal. It’s a good feeling knowing you paid a good price and don’t have to worry about paying later on - it’s all sorted.

But sometimes life gets in the way of our travel plans. Now, closer to the event something comes up - a family emergency, a work commitment, a financial complication - and you can no longer go. The only problem is that the hotel reservation is non-refundable and you can’t cancel it. You end without a holiday and out of pocket. You're not alone.

Forbes reported that every day in the U.S. alone, more than 221,000 hotel rooms are cancelled and paid for, resulting in a market which sees $8.6 billion wasted annually on non-refundable hotel room cancellations.

These are large and very unfortunate figures when it comes to hotel rooms going to waste. When someone doesn't show up to the hotel because they cannot cancel their booking and no one takes over the booking, it’s not just the hotel which is affected. It has an impact on the industry around the hotel such as restaurants, shops, tourist attractions and transportation.  

There is another option: you can sell your hotel room online.


Why Are Hotel Rooms Non-Refundable?

Hotels make their rooms non-refundable to save themselves from losing out on money when people change their mind. If they didn't charge for cancellations, people would be cancelling all the time and re-booking, which of course sounds like an administrative nightmare. Some hotels do offer more flexible rates which allow you to cancel in advance and get a refund, but they cost significantly more. Why would you pay a higher fee if you didn’t think you were going to cancel in the first place? Whilst this all makes sense for the hotel as a business, it does mean their guests can be caught out by the strict regulations. If you need more advice, read our guide to hotel cancellation and refund policies. You might be wondering why you would pay for a hotel room that was non-refundable if there was a chance you'd be charged even if you didn't use the room. The only other option would be to a book a 'flexible' room, which a lot of hotels do offer. Whilst you have the option to refund or change your booking should you need to, the cost for this kind of room is often significantly more than a standard room. If you don't cancel and use the booking as you originally intended, you've forked out more money for the same thing as everyone else. 

So, if you can’t get a refund and a cancellation will result in you being charged anyway, what can you do with an unwanted hotel reservation?

You change it. 80% of all travel bookings are transferable so if you change the name of the guest on the booking, you can sell it. Most hotels will let you do this, but it’s worth checking the individual hotel’s name change policy. Once you know you can do this, the rest is easy.


How Do I Sell My Non-Refundable Hotel Reservation?

Listing a room on TransferTravel.com is simple. You just have to create an account, add the details of your hotel room and wait for one of the thousands of buyers to snap up a great deal. Our guide to selling non-refundable hotel rooms takes you through the listing process step-by-step.

Once you find a buyer, we connect you to them on a safe messaging platform so you can exchange all the details needed to make a name change on the travel documents. After that, you upload them, they download them, and your money is transferred to you as soon as the booking is used. Please be aware that there is a small fee of 15% but this is only charged when the entire transfer process is complete. It is free to list and if your listing expires, you won’t be charged anything by us.



How Do I Know If My Hotel Will Allow Transfers?

80% of travel plans can be changed so if you’ve made a reservation with a hotel, it’s more than likely that you will be able to make amendments to your booking. Most hotel groups and chains allow you to do this through their website but if you’re unsure, call the customer service team of the specific hotel location to find out what their individual policy is.


Can I Sell A Villa Booking or Home Rental?

The same rules for hotels apply to all other types of accommodation - you can sell them all on TransferTravel.com as long as you can change the name on the booking.


What About Airbnb And Home Shares?

You can sell your Airbnb online too, but make sure you’re aware of their cancellation policy as hosts can decide how strict or flexible to be with their property rentals.

When you sign up to be a host on Airbnb you can choose between three policies regarding how guests can receive a refund upon cancellation; Flexible, Moderate and Strict. If you opt ‘Flexible’ booking it means that your guest can cancel up until the day prior to arrival to receive a full refund (except fees). Listing your accommodation as ‘Moderate’ means that a guest has 5 days prior to arrival to receive a full refund, again, minus the fees. The ‘Strict’ option allows the guest 1 week prior to arrival to receive a 50% refund. Terms & conditions do apply to each of the policies that each host applies to their listing.

Airbnb also offers the ‘Extenuating Circumstances Policy’. If guests provide a valid circumstance, this policy can override the host’s cancellation policy. Some of the valid extenuating circumstances include:

    • Unexpected death or serious illness of a host, guest or immediate family member

    • Serious injury that directly restricts a guest’s ability to travel or a host’s ability to host
    • Natural disasters/Weather incidents
    • Travel restrictions
    • Endemic diseases
    • Property damages

*The full list can be found on AirBnB’s cancellation page on their website.

Despite all of the above, we all know life happens and breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t quite qualify as a natural disaster and no, tonsillitis isn’t probably not considered an endemic disease. If you aren’t within your timescale to cancel and your Host hasn’t marked your stay as Flexible, you can still sell your reservation to someone else.


Are you ready to sell your hotel room? Sell your accommodation to someone looking for a great deal!




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Posted 5 April 2018

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