Saw this on Flyertalk in the Marriott forum. Policy takes effect January 1, 2015. It was picked up off one of the blogger sites. It has been officially confirmed by a Marriott spokesperson, so not a rumor.
"Starting Jan. 1, 2015, Marriott International will officially adopt a stricter reservation cancellation policy than what is currently in place at most of its properties, TravelUpdate.com has learned.
Marriott told Travel Update that the goal is to sell more rooms, as opposed to collecting more reservation penalty fees.
Once the policy takes effect, consumers will have until 11:59 p.m. local time the day before check-in in order to avoid paying a penalty charge, according to the email obtained by Travel Update that Marriott sent to hotel operators on Friday.
Marriott expects that “most hotels will want to follow the new policy,” according to the email. Marriott, in fact, is telling franchised hotels that if they want to opt out of the new policy and continue offering a “day of arrival” cancellation deadline, they must request permission to do so.
In response to Travel Update’s questions to Marriott about the policy change, Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore said that about 25% “of our managed hotels in the Americas have a cancellation policy that is more aggressive than 6pm day of arrival.” So in many markets, she said, the new policy will put Marriott “in line with our competitors.” Uh, Felicia that means that 75% don't have a more agressive than 6pm DOA policy.
In its email to hoteliers, Marriott notes that the policy change comes at a time of record breaking demand for hotel rooms. Marriott’s email says:
“Demand for lodging is at an all-time high, and across the industry, more rooms are being occupied than ever before. We expect that 2015 will be another record-breaking year for occupancy, which means now is a good time to modify our reservation cancellation policy to help hotels better manage their inventory.
Overview of Policy Change
The new policy will change the cancellation deadline from the day of arrival (e.g., 12:00, 4:00 or 6:00 p.m.) to 11:59 p.m. local time on the day prior to arrival. The change to the cancellation policy gives Revenue Management more time to manage inventory and make strategy adjustments, thereby increasing the ability to mitigate loss from short-term cancellations. Many of our competitors have already moved to a 24-hour cancellation policy, and many hotels within the Marriott portfolio have already implemented a more aggressive cancellation policy (note: hotels currently following a more restrictive policy will not be impacted by this change).
In response to Travel Update’s question as to whether Marriott expects the new policy to increase cancellation fee revenue, Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore sent this response:
“While the intent for this change is not to collect more cancellation fees, our desire is to sell rooms that would have otherwise gone unoccupied due to a guest’s last minute cancellation.”