A college graduation is a much anticipated event for any family. One of our viewers thought she was planning ahead, but ended up with a hotel reservation cancellation for graduation weekend.
She turned to our NBC10 Boston Responds team for help.
Maria’s daughter is graduating from the University of South Carolina in May.
"Every friend of mine, who has had a child graduate from college, has warned me to make sure you make your reservations way ahead of time because they book up in advance," said Maria.
A year ago, Maria went online to make a hotel reservation. She wanted to stay in downtown Columbia, in walking distance of the USC ceremony, and since she and her husband are both Hilton Gold members, she started there.
"I went onto the Hilton Honors site and saw this new property that said coming January 2018: Home2 Suites," said Maria. "So I booked it. I said perfect."
She booked a room for three nights for a total of $527. But in October, during USC Parents Weekend, they say that the hotel construction wasn’t complete.
"I called the hotel the next day. I spoke to the General Manager, Tammy, and said I’m a little concerned," explained Maria.
Maria was concerned, because when she visited Columbia she noticed that the hotel wasn’t ready. Hilton told her many parents had made reservations for graduation weekend, and assured her the hotel would be ready. Four months later, on February 27, Maria and her husband received an email, informing them that due to construction delays, the hotel would not be open for their May 11 reservation.
"I was beside myself," said Maria. "I was so flabbergasted because this is Hilton. I never expected that treatment."
The email offered no compensation, only a list of other Hilton properties that had rooms for graduation weekend. The only downtown option, that didn’t require renting a car, was the Hampton Inn, which Maria booked for almost triple the price: $1,400 for three nights.
"They say they helped us by giving us the list of other properties, but $700 more for another property is no help to me," said Maria. "Making me stay ten miles outside of the graduation downtown area is no help to me. So that’s when I called NBC10 Boston Responds."
We reached out to Hilton. A company spokesperson said that while they couldn’t match the original booking rate or offer a refund of the difference, they had offered numerous accommodations to remedy the situation. Maria disputes that but did agree to accept their offers in the end.
Hilton tells us: "In light of the delayed opening, our hotel team successfully worked with all guests whose reservations were affected. We went above and beyond to support the (couple), confirming room availability and comparable nightly rates at six local Hilton-branded properties. We also offered free downtown parking during the busy graduation weekend, a free night at the hotel when it opens, and two free nights at any Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel. We are pleased that (they) accepted these offers, and hope that we can welcome them to other Hilton properties in the future."
Maria says her loyalty to Hilton is done.
"I think that they did the right thing by offering us something, but I don’t think they compensated us for the rooms that we lost for college graduation," said Maria. "College graduation is a huge deal. This is a huge event for our daughter, and I did not need the extra stress and aggravation that I went through in the past few weeks to get ready for a very happy time in our life."
There are no laws protecting you if a hotel cancels your confirmed reservation, so be wary if you’re booking a property that is under construction. And always read the fine print of any reservation confirmation, so you know what to expect in the event of a cancellation.