I don’t normally make errors when I book flights and hotels. In fact, I’m a bit OCD on the matter and have been known to look back and forth between the Internet browser and my calendar so many times that the page times out due to inactivity. So imagine my surprise when I got a web check-in notification from Hyatt today about my stay at The Driskill in Austin, TX. My immediate thought was, “But I’m not going to Austin today!” It doesn’t help that I’ve been sick all week and already had to skip out on breakfast with a reader.
So, after attempting to clear my throat, I got on the phone to fix this mess.
The first thing you should do in a situation like this is call the hotel’s in-house reservations team. They generally have more power than a centralized reservations desk to override things like that pesky cancellation deadline. It also helps to have new dates of travel. In this case it wasn’t that I wanted to cancel a reservation past the deadline but rather wanted to move it to the correct weekend. Third, my reservation was made earlier this week, making it more plausible that I had planned on arriving sometime a few months — not days — later.
And I don’t know if this mattered or not, but the reservations agent who assisted me thanked me for my loyalty as a Gold Passport Diamond member. Fixing customer screw-ups is not an elite benefit, but in my experience elite status does encourage employees to be more cooperative.
My biggest problem was that the rate I booked by accident was incredibly low at only $170 a night. The Driskill is normally $350 or more and has lots of sold-out weekends this summer. I could either pay a $170+tax cancellation penalty or rebook at the new rate of $360. I asked the agent to give me some time to think it over and call my wife, so she put a note in my file in case I got someone else next time (Another reason to call in-house reservations: apparently only their own team and read these notes.) The only catch is I had to make a decision before local check-in time.
Eventually I decided to go with the higher rate on the correct weekend rather than pay the penalty. My reservation was changed, not cancelled, and they were able to find me a lower rate of about $320. It does seem like I’m paying through the nose, but other hotels in the area are already at $170-200 for that weekend, and if I booked one of them instead and paid a $170 penalty then the total cost would not be far off. My ridiculously good rate at The Driskill was too good to be true. Now I have a less good rate, but still not bad. At least it will make for an interesting first trip to Austin.