Most hotels have well-established policies for making, confirming, and holding reservations placed by prospective guests. A confirmed reservation generally constitutes a binding agreement (in essence, a “reservation contract”) between the hotel and prospective guest. If the guest fails to use the reservation, the hotel is generally entitled to damages. On the other hand, if the hotel breaches a reservation contract, the guest can sue the hotel for damages. If the hotel actually has accommodations available but fails to supply them as agreed, it may be liable for breach of its duties as an innkeeper.
Hotel overbooking often presents problems, and many hotels have adopted a pledge that requires their assistance in securing comparable accommodations, if, for any reason, a room should not be available for a patron who holds a valid confirmed reservation. A few states have enacted legislation that addresses hotel overbooking. Florida’s law, for example, makes the hotel responsible for “every effort” to find alternate accommodations and up to a $500 fine for each guest turned away because of the overbooking.