Just like airlines, hotels overbook: Here's what to do when it happens

You're at your hotel's check-in desk, it's the end of a long day and you've just been told there's no room at the inn. Even though you might have a confirmed reservation made months ago, the "full house" sign is up and you're not going to be sleeping in that hotel that night.

Hotels overbook, just like airlines, to allow for the 5 to 10 per cent of guests who don't show up, and sometimes they get it wrong. Just as airlines do, hotels have priorities when they decide who gets bumped. Guests who are part of the hotel's loyalty scheme are unlikely to get the shove, so join when you make your reservation, it's free. If you've booked a discount room through an online travel agent rather than through the hotel's own website you might be walking out the door. A guest booked in for several nights is less likely to be bumped than a one-nighter. If circumstances prevent you from checking in early, email the hotel the day before to let them know you'll be late since late check-ins are another potential casualty.

If you are given the boot – "walked" in hotel parlance – the hotel staff should reserve a room in another nearby hotel of at least the same quality, and you're entitled to ask for perks – a room upgrade, free breakfast and taxi fare to get to the other property. You're also entitled to a full refund, on the spot, of any deposit you might have paid.

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