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What is overbooking and what to do if you are checked into the wrong hotel?

In the world of tourism, overbooking has become an unexpected companion, leaving tourists without a well-deserved rest. A travel expert shares his perspective on the issue and offers recommendations for mitigation.

What is overbooking?

As the specialist explained, in simple words, this is a situation when a hotel books more rooms than it can accommodate. Reasons range from force majeure to sales tactics to minimize losses.

“Unfortunately, it often happens that a tourist has booked a tour or a certain hotel, but the trip turns into a surprise and you are unable to check-in. In simple terms without terminology, overbooking is a situation in which a hotel has more rooms booked and the hotel cannot accommodate everyone booked guests,” says the expert.

The expert explains that these are typical reasons for this phenomenon – force majeure, errors in bookings, and hotels’ tactics of selling more rooms than they have.

“This happens for several reasons. It happens that force majeure occurs in the form of a utility failure or power outage. Then the hotel places tourists in rooms of a higher category or sends them to another hotel. Another reason: the tourist independently booked on the website, but the room was already busy, and forgot to update the information on the resource.

It also happens that hotels deliberately sell more rooms to avoid losses in the case of guests who never make it to them. There are situations when a tour operator tries to sell more tours. Let’s say the flight is half empty and the hotel is full. But there is another one. In this way they are trying to kill two birds with one stone, maybe you’ll get lucky. And if not, then they will send you to an empty hotel,” the expert said.

Where does overbooking most often occur?

The expert notes that this phenomenon most often occurs in resort areas, where demand for hotels during peak season often exceeds supply.

“Overbooking is a common occurrence in popular resort areas during peak season, for example, in Egypt, Turkey, and Thailand, and less often in Europe,” the expert said.

How to prevent it?

Although there are no guaranteed methods, the expert recommends following a few steps.

“There are no 100% options to prevent overbooking, but still, if the contract provides for this clause, you can ask agents to list specific hotels that can replace yours, so that you are prepared.

If you book a room on the website yourself, call or write to the hotel to check availability. Forewarned is forearmed. Also, choose hotels in the aggregator with the option of paying on the spot,” shares the specialist.

What to do if overbooking occurs?

Knowing your rights and remaining calm are the keys to successfully resolving any situation. The expert gives several recommendations to tourists who find themselves in a similar situation.

If you find yourself a victim of overbooking and are checked into the wrong hotel, follow these recommendations:

  1. Please keep all documents and booking confirmations you receive. This could be emails, SMS messages, or printed receipts. These documents will help you confirm your booking and avoid additional problems.
  2. If the hotel staff cannot offer any solution or refuses to fulfill their obligations, call the tour operator or agency through which you made the reservation, voice the situation, and the hotelier’s response. They should be able to help you find alternative accommodation or resolve a problem with your current hotel.
  3. It is important to remain calm and polite when dealing with hotel staff and others who may serve you. It is important to remember that mistakes can happen and a positive approach can help resolve the situation faster and easier.

Overbooking can happen not only in hotels but also with air tickets, especially on charter flights. Here, as in hotels, the key is to remain calm and know your rights.

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