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How far out you can book a hotel? And does making reservations at the far side of the booking window provides any tangible benefit? Each hotel chain handles reservations differently, with the booking windows of major hotel chains ranging from 11 months through to a mammoth 3 years.
We’re big fans of locking your accommodation plans in early. Award travel is often dependant on finding scarce award availability, and you’ll have much better luck piecing together an itinerary of award flights and hotels if you book at the outer reaches of the booking window.
Why Book Your Hotel in Advance?
When you’re battling to piece an itinerary together and juggling multiple rewards currencies, booking in advance provides the best possible chance of securing availability at the lowest award rate. Unlike revenue bookings, which tend to decrease in price as you get closer to your stay then spike at the last minute. Award prices either stay the same, or rise as the departure date approaches and ‘standard’ rooms book out. You can get lucky and snag a standard room in a busy location close in, but you run the risk of not getting the accommodation you want, or paying extra if there are no standard rooms available.
Booking hotels as the booking window open's provides certainty for your vacation plans. Even if you only keep the reservation until award space in a better hotel or suite availability opens up, many hotels will allow you to cancel an award at no cost as close as the night before your reservation. Remember, award cancellation policies are dictated by the hotel, not the chain, so check the cancellation policy of the hotel before making your reservation.
Hotel Award Booking Windows
|Hotel Rewards Program||Booking Window|
|Best Western||349 Days|
|Radisson Rewards||270 Days (Revenue - 1,095 days)|
|Hilton Honors||365 Days|
|World of Hyatt||394 Days|
|IHG Rewards Club||350 Days|
|Marriott Rewards (Marriott, Ritz, SPG)||352 Days|
|Le Club Accor||404 Days|
The booking window varies widely between chains. IHG and Marriott allow you to book a little under 12 months out, while Radisson Rewards offers a monster three years for revenue bookings, but just 270 days for free night awards. The average booking window tips the calendar at 12 months.
When to Book Hotels Well in Advance
While there are plenty of occasions you can book a week or a month out and land a good deal and wide-open availability. We think select circumstances warrant booking as far in advance as your planning allows. These include:
- Ultra-popular destinations such as the over-water bungalows in the Maldives
- High season in other busy destinations
- Destinations with few chain hotels (fewer points options)
- When traveling with kids or possibly grandparents
- When attending weddings, sporting and music events, or cultural performances
- Airport hotels for early morning or late evening arrival/departure
- When booking promo or discount awards
- If you need to use free night certificates before they expire
Planning your award stays well into the future is an excellent way of securing the best deals and guaranteeing that you have accommodation during peak season and other busy times. Most programs allow you to book your hotel stays up to 12 months out. That is a long way into the future to plan!
If we’ve missed any programs you wish to see included, please reach out in the comments, and we’ll do our best to get it added to the list.
Also, don't forget to check out our post on How Far in Advance Can You Book Airline Award Tickets.
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