One of the best feelings is booking flights and an amazing hotel room for a vacation that you've been saving up for. You've taken the time off work, you've set aside your travel budget and you're already planning what you're going to do on the first day.
But sometimes life gets in the way of our travel plans. Something unexpected 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 up 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.
But let's start at the beginning...
What Is A Non-Refundable Hotel Room?
This might seem like an obvious question but when phrases like 'cancellation fee' are factored in, you might wonder what it is that you end up having to pay for when you can't use a hotel booking. For most hotels, a non-refundable reservation means that, even when cancelled ahead of time, you can't cancel without penalty. Frustrating, right?
There are a few hotel chains who have a '24-hour policy', allowing you to cancel a booking you might have made by mistake and get a refund on it, minus an administration fee or deposit which they will stipulate for you. Some hotels will offer you the opportunity to change the date of your booking to suit you better, which is handy if you've had to change the rest of your travel plans but can still go on your vacation at some point in the future.
All of this will not only depend on the hotel chain you booked with, but the individual location of your hotel too, as big names like Hilton, Hyatt and so on will often change their terms and conditions based upon where in the world you are. You should check your booking confirmation, which is usually sent to you by email when you originally booked, to find out what your cancellation options are.
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 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.
What Are My Options?
- Transfer your hotel stay to another date. Contact the specific hotel location your booking was made with and ask them how to go about changing your booking details. It's often as simple as just confirming your identity and booking reference, then specifying the date you'd like to stay at the hotel. Bear in mind that there may be a charge for this if there's a difference between the price of the original date and price of the new date; you would be required to pay the difference if it's more, but won't receive any money back if it's cheaper.
- Get in touch with your hotel and explain your situation to them, particularly if you have an extenuating circumstance that's stopping you from travelling.
- File an insurance claim. If you have travel insurance, you can make a claim and see if you can get at least some of your money back. On average, 87% of legitimate claims are paid out so your chances are good. However, this will depend on the reason you are cancelling as sometimes only extenuating circumstances like the death of a family member or natural disaster will be covered by your insurance type. Also, make sure you keep hold of any documents and evidence needed to make a claim.
- Sell your travel plans to someone else who is looking to travel to the same place. This is surprisingly easy to do as all you need to be able to do is change the name of the guest on the booking. If you sell it someone else, then you can amend the booking to their details and get your money back!
How Do I Sell My Non-Refundable Hotel Reservation?
TransferTravel.com is the travel marketplace where people from all over the world can sell their hotel rooms and vacations to other people looking for a great deal on their travel plans. All you need to be able to do is transfer your hotel room to another person with a quick name change. Listing a room on TransferTravel.com is simple:
- Create an account. You can log in using your Google, Facebook or Twitter accounts, or just an email address if you prefer. Logging in with a social media account doesn't let us post on your feed.
- Add the details of your hotel room, such as location, date, room type and any extras that might be included, like breakfast. Our guide to selling non-refundable hotel rooms takes you through the listing process step-by-step
- When it's approved by our team, it'll be listed in the travel marketplace where thousands of buyers are browsing for their next vacation.
- Once a buyer decides they want your hotel room, 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.
The whole process is safe and secure from the moment you submit a listing to when you sell it. We want to make sure that you feel confident your travel plans and personal details are protected.
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. For more advice, read our page about hotel name change policies.
Can I Sell A Villa Booking, Home Rental or Airbnb?
In essence, 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. If it's part of a package vacation, this is slightly different as flights and transfers are likely to be included in it too. You won't be able to cancel or sell your hotel booking separately so make sure to read our guide to selling vacations before trying to cancel individual parts of your trip.
Airbnb works slightly differently than most other accommodation providers. You can sell your Airbnb online though, 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
Unfortunately, breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t quite qualify as a natural disaster and no, tonsillitis isn’t probably considered an endemic disease (although it feels like it). 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!