Coronavirus: Indian hotel chains offer free cancellation, relaxation on membership cards

Following the coronavirus, Indian hotel chains are offering free cancellation of reservations and relaxation on their membership cards.

Hotel companies like Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), ITC, Radisson and Marriott offer free waivers on cancellation fees and freeze the duration of memberships and points.

Hotels have also stepped up security and sanitation at their properties to mitigate the risk of contracting the coronavirus from hotel guests and staff.

Safety action plans

Major hotel chains have implemented a disinfection process for all areas, body temperature checks for everyone visiting their premises using non-invasive laser thermometers, and increased access to hand sanitizers alcohol-based in their properties in accordance with the advice and guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. for the prevention of coronavirus.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have activated our corporate crisis response teams around the world and have put in place strong processes, robust systems and dedicated support teams,” said Federico J González, Chairman and CEO of Radisson Group, adding that, “if required, hotel closures for quarantine purposes in cooperation with local authorities” would be undertaken.

Cancellations and changes to reservations

The hospitality industry, like the aviation and tourism industries, has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Indian government has suspended all visas for international travelers and locked ports and borders.

Also in India, several state governments have imposed article 144 of the CPC banning public gatherings. At the same time, the government imposed an embargo on public places and shopping centers, with the exception of grocery stores and supermarkets. Several events have already been canceled indefinitely.

The government has also advised citizens to stay indoors unless essential and has asked companies to allow their employees to work from home.

All of this would obviously have an immediate impact on hotel bookings as well. Customers and agents make their reservations at least a few months before the event.

As a result of these developments, IHCL, Radisson, ITC and Marriott are offering free waivers on cancellation fees. “We understand the need for increased flexibility in planning your trips. For your help, all Taj, SeleQtions and Vivanta hotels are waiving individual cancellation fees for hotel stays through April 30, 2020, ”said Renu Basu, Senior Vice President – Global Sales and Marketing, IHCL , in a customer note. IHCL has a portfolio of 197 hotels, 40 of which are under development around the world on four continents, 12 countries and over 100 sites.

Marriott International, in a guest note, said it was updating its policy to give its guests the most flexibility the hotel company can offer in these difficult times.

“As a general rule, for customers with existing individual bookings, including bookings with prepaid rates which are generally more restrictive, we will allow changes or cancellations free of charge up to 24 hours before arrival, provided that the change or cancellation be made by April 30, 2020, ”said Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International.

ITC and Radisson also said they were waiving cancellation fees until April 30 for individual customers.

For the MICE segment, Radisson offers free cancellations for certain countries: “We allow free cancellations for China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Belgium, Spain, France and the United States for inbound and outbound business for arrivals / meetings and events up to and including April 30, 2020, ”he said.

Freezing loyalty programs

The Taj Group has a loyalty program called Taj InnerCircle (TIC). Noting to guests that following the pandemic there would be a freeze on the loyalty program, Basu said, “We will suspend the expiration of all TIC points which are due to expire between March 16, 2020 and April 30, 2020 . For members for whom the current level status is to be assessed between March 16, 2020 and April 30, 2020, we will now assess level eligibility only on May 1, 2020. “

Marriott International offers several loyalty programs. Marriott said the points expiration has been suspended until August 31, 2020. “The company has extended the expiration of Suite Night Awards (SNA) for one year with an expiration date of December 31, 2020. until December 31, 2021. Finally, members who currently have active Free Night Service (FNA) expiring in 2020 as part of their credit card benefit, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel package will be able to use it until Jan. 31, 2021, ”Marriott said.

Christina A. Kroll