My reserved hotel left me stranded during the eclipse

Bill Chromizky and his wife are excited to travel to the path of this summer’s solar eclipse. They book a hotel in advance through Expedia, but when they arrive, they’re told that their reservation had been canceled. The Chromizkys are forced to relocate to a more expensive hotel. Can our advocates bring them some sunshine and reimbursement for their extra expense?

Question: My wife and I had a two-night reservation at the Centerstone Inn & Suites in Carlyle, Ill. for August 20 to 21. We made the reservation through Expedia. When we got to the hotel, they claimed that they were fully booked, and that Expedia had canceled my reservation. I had received an email from Expedia right before we left that day confirming our reservation, so I didn’t believe the hotel people.

We ended up getting a hotel 20 miles away, which cost us an extra $100 since we were a last-minute arrival and rooms in the area were scarce. I have emailed both the Centerstone chain and Expedia about this and have received no answer from either party.

I would like to be reimbursed the $100 difference from what I was going to pay at Centerstone, and the amount I did pay at the EconoLodge. I would prefer a check, not a credit for a future trip. — Bill Chromizky, Darien, Ill.

Answer: How lucky you were to be in the path of the solar eclipse! In the Northeast, where I live, the moon blocked out only a sliver of the sun. The hotel you had booked was right in the path of the total eclipse and thus was in a popular area to stay.

Related story:   "The hotel lost my luggage" -- and that's just the beginning of this tale of lost and found

You were smart to book your stay in advance and had a confirmed reservation from Expedia, so what could have gone wrong?

You started your quest for reimbursement and an explanation by sending emails to Expedia and Centerstone Hotels. Unfortunately, you didn’t receive a response within three weeks.

So you asked our advocates for help. We reached out to Expedia and the hotel and found out more information about your case.

It turns out that the hotel had overbooked during the eclipse and did not notify you or Expedia that they wouldn’t be able to accommodate your reservation. However, the property attempted to remedy the less-than-ideal situation by booking alternate accommodations for you for one night, and offering you a room at the original hotel for the following night, free of charge. You didn’t take up the hotel on their offer.

You would think that overbooking only happens at the airlines, but it is quite prevalent in the hotel industry. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues at recently wrote about another solar eclipse viewer who was a victim of hotel overbooking.

And other travelers have posted about eclipse overbooking in our help forums, which are read by industry executives.

Is hotel overbooking legal? Yes. Is it acceptable? No. Apparently, a lot of hoteliers decided to make extra money by accepting higher-priced reservations and canceling lower-priced ones. And Expedia never was notified.

But your cloud had a silver lining. Expedia accepted responsibility for the overbooking. While you didn’t get the cash refund you desired, you did receive a credit of $150 to your Expedia account to use on a future trip, which you found acceptable.

Related story:   Should US Airways compensate me for a lodging error?

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined.

  • SirWIred

    “However, the property attempted to remedy the less-than-ideal situation by booking alternate accommodations for you for one night, and offering you a room at the original hotel for the following night, free of charge. You didn’t take up the hotel on their offer.”

    I wonder why they turned down the hotel’s offer? They were offered one night somewhere else, and a free night at the original hotel; while it’s not ideal to check out and switch rooms, that’s still better than paying for two nights and recovering the rate difference afterwards.

  • John Baker

    I’m lost… Did the hotel find them alternate accommodations or not? If they did, that’s a completely different story than the LW wrote. Depending on which set of facts is true directly effects whether I think the outcome was fair or if the LW took advantage of the situation…

    Either way, I don’t agree with the hotel accepting more reservations than rooms on the property.

  • Lindabator

    You might be surprised how many no shows thy get – so unfortunately a bit of overbooking does happen, and in those rare times everyone DOES show up, they will walk you — I think the client just did not want to move around, and looked for 2 nights in on area – making the problem harder to resolve

  • John Baker

    I guess my feeling is that if the hotel offered to walk him and he turned them down, the end result is on him not the hotel (he was going to pay less than planned for the inconvenience of having to move hotels). If the hotel didn’t offer to walk him, he should be covered. Also really annoying if he was less than completely honest with the advocate.

  • Bill___A

    Actually you lose a lot of time checking out of one hotel and into another. Hotels should be careful not to overbook when it is a time such as an eclipse, where there are few alternatives.

  • Michael__K

    What other hotel was offered? It looks like there is only one other hotel in Carlyle, IL, according to what’s offered on Expedia. After that the Econolodge nearly 20 miles away seems to be the nearest comparable hotel with breakfast included like where they reserved.

  • Michael__K

    They LW wrote they stayed at the EconoLodge, 20 miles away.
    Checking Expedia right now, I see that the off-peak advanced booking rate at the EconoLodge is $2 lower than the rate for the Centerstone. They paid $100 more presumably because it was a last-minute transaction on the eve of the eclipse.

  • Michael__K

    It doesn’t matter how far away they offer to walk you and how the other hotel compares?

  • fredsugar

    Plus you have the ‘checkout at 11am’ can’t check in until ‘3 or 4pm’ where you have to lug all your things around and also you don’t get to sleep in, it is extremely inconvenient to switch, I wouldn’t have taken it either.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    No, they didn’t. You’re assuming it was the Econolodge. The post says nothing about the other hotel.

  • Michael__K

    “I would like to be reimbursed the $100 difference from what I was going to pay at Centerstone, and the amount I did pay at the EconoLodge.

  • Chris_In_NC

    Wow. Total fail on Centerpoint Hotel, considering that every hotel I knew of in the path of totality had some of the most severe cancellation policies that I have ever seen (ie non-refundable, 30-45 day cancellation fees, or totally non-refundable rates).

  • James

    Carlyle, IL, was not in the path of totality. 99.3% of the sun would be obscured there at totality, but they would have had to travel to a place like Marissa to get to totality.

    Having experienced a couple total solar eclipses, there is actually a huge difference between 99.3% and totality.

  • James

    I’d note that the eclipse started around noon, with totality around 2:30PM.

  • Chris_In_NC

    @micha@Michael__K:disqus many hotels raised their rates SIGNIFICANTLY because of the eclipse. Some of the 1 star hotels in Casper were charging $1500 a night with a 3 night minimum. So, you CANNOT look at regular rates, or even rack rates for a comparison for what the actual rates were during the eclipse

  • Chris_In_NC

    @linda@Lindabator:disqus normally I would agree…. BUT, many of the hotels in the eclipse paths had some of the most restricted rates and cancellation terms I have ever seen. Also, many of the rates were raised significantly. Some of the 1 star hotels in Casper WY were charging $1500 a night with a 3 night minimum. One of the hotels we looked at had a 45 day cancellation policy.

  • Michael__K

    The point is he chose a very comparable hotel. If anything, it was a very slight downgrade. If the last minute price at the new hotel is higher, than that should be 100% on the hotel which overbooked and wouldn’t honor his reservation.

  • Chris_In_NC

    With the eclipse, it snot a question of a comparable hotel from an amenities standpoint. Its a question of LOCATION. The eclipse was a special circumstance.

  • Michael__K

    If the new hotel was in a worse viewing location, then I agree that should be factored in too. Apparently the customer is satisfied with the Expedia credit for $150. My response above was directed at @disqus_TSb9zAzzyc:disqus who expressed concern that maybe “the LW took advantage of the situation.”

  • y_p_w

    For something like the eclipse I would think no shows would be minimal or even nonexistent.

  • Gilmore Tuttle

    Wow, what a hassle. Our eclipse reservation went as smooth as could be. We booked a room many months in advance of the eclipse at a Motel 6. Not only did they honor the reservation, they even knocked a few bucks off the original price as a military discount.

  • The Original Joe S

    Is that similar to part-way and all-the-way?

  • The Original Joe S

    On Line 3rd Party Travel Agent – trouble starts there…….

  • wilcoxon

    I disagree. They must offer to walk you to a comparable hotel nearby whatever the booking was for (the eclipse in this case which gave more leeway than a convention or similar) and for the full time of the reservation (changing hotels is a major hassle). If the walk offer doesn’t meet those three conditions then they must work with the customer to make it acceptable (just because they offered him a free night for having to move hotels does not mean it is acceptable).

  • wilcoxon

    EconoLodge, as a chain, has always had lots of event pricing where the rates get massively jacked up for special events.

  • jsn55

    If I were booking a hotel in what was going to be a very popular area due to a natural phenomenon, I’d surely confirm the booking several times before the date of arrival … directly with the hotel. To book through an online booking agency and not with the hotel is an issue anyway. Those bookings are the lowest status on a hotel’s list.

    Once hotels figured out that they could charge a whole lot more for their rooms, they of course just cancelled the OBA reservations, among others, and resold those rooms at probably triple the price.

  • joycexyz

    I have the feeling a lot of hotels did this for the eclipse. Either that, or they accepted pricier reservations and told the cheaper ones that they were overbooked.

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