ICHHTO Addresses Hoteliers’ Criticism

ICHHTO Addresses  Hoteliers’ Criticism ICHHTO Addresses  Hoteliers’ Criticism

Iran’s foremost authority on tourism, which published a set of guidelines regarding hotel bookings and cancellations on Saturday, has addressed the issues raised by a top hotelier about the rules’ contents.

Speaking to Financial Tribune on Tuesday, Vali Teymouri, director of the Monitoring and Assessment of Tourism Services Office at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, gave a detailed response.

“[The hoteliers] may have misunderstood Article 28. The regulation doesn’t mention the cancellation fee for scrapping the reservation 24 hours before check-in because it’s a fact that cancelling so late will result in a 100% cancellation fee.”

On the topic of travel agencies not being able to organize tours because they cannot book their desired number of rooms, Teymouri said the articles pertaining to the issue are meant to help combat “blank reservations,” which are booked rooms that are never used.

“Because supply and demand don’t match in Iran, these regulations are necessary. More often than not, you get tour operators pre-booking 30 rooms before organizing a tour, but ending up using 10 or 15,” he said.

What this means is that the hotel ends up rejecting another travel agency that may actually have a full tour ready because the rooms are already reserved.

“This is not fair to the second tour operator and even the hotel will end up losing money if the booked rooms are not used,” he said.

Teymouri noted that the norm across the world is for travel agencies to organize a tour beforehand and based on the number of their clients, book the hotel rooms.

On Sunday, Jamshid Hamzezadeh, president of the Iranian Hoteliers’ Society, said devising the guidelines “is a step forward … but a few articles are problematic.”

 Problematic Articles

Hamzezadeh specifically pointed to articles 13 and 28, which he said impose disproportionate fines on guests and lodging facilities, and articles 4 and 21 that make it difficult for travel agencies to plan tours.

Article 13 states that if for any reason (aside from special circumstances such as security threats or natural calamities), the hotel is unable to provide the guest with the room that has already been paid for, it must find a similar room with a comparable rate for the client, or refund the deposit in full and pay a fine equal to one night’s stay.

Article 28 outlines the cancellation policy that stipulates that there is no prior agreement between the parties and only a deposit has been paid. The article has five sections and the hoteliers’ problem is stated in Section 5 as follows: If the booking is cancelled less than 48 hours prior to the check-in date, the hotel can charge a 70% fee based on a night’s stay.

According to Hamzezadeh, cancelling a reservation 24 hours before the check-in date “across the world means the deposit is forfeited to the hotel … that’s a 100% cancellation fee and it’s the global standard”.

He said the fact that Article 13 obliges hoteliers to pay a fine equal to one night’s stay contradicts Article 28 that compels guests to pay a maximum of 70% of a night’s stay in cancellation fee.

Furthermore, hotel owners say the new guidelines make it difficult for tour operators to plan tours, because Articles 4 obliges travel agencies to book rooms in the name of their clients, while Article 21 stipulates that travel agencies must indicate exact dates, number of guests and types of rooms they want to book on the reservation forms.

“Normally, travel agencies book a certain number of rooms under their own name and based on the number of rooms, they organize tours for a specific number of people. This helps travel agents to plan and organize tours,” Hamzezadeh said.

However, the two articles make planning tours difficult.

“Now, travel agencies have to reserve rooms under the name of their clients first, but how can they do that if nobody has signed up for a tour package? How can travel agencies organize a tour in the first place if they don’t know how many people they can take on?” the hotelier said.