Position Statement: Hotels right to refuse or cancel bookings


13 January, 2015

Hotels right to refuse or cancel a booking

Hotel venues are sometimes faced with the issue of whether or not to take a booking, or cancel a booking, based on the person/organisation involved in the booking.

This was the position faced recently by venues booked for anti-vaccination lectures and has also applied in the past to venues that cancelled forums by controversial figures such as Philip Nitschke and the Dutch right winger Gert Wilders.

Hotel venues must place the safety of their guests and staff as their first priority.

They must also take into account the liquor licensing laws and obligations and their own house policies in regard to running fit and proper venues.

Ultimately the decision to take or refuse a booking is up to the judgement of the licensee taking into account the circumstances of the venue and conduct in question.

Hotels have a duty of care to those attending and working in the venue, and if by accepting a booking, this might attract demonstrations or reactions that could lead to serious confrontation, then it is appropriate that the venue reviews the booking and makes a decision based on the risks associated with hosting it.

Licensees would take into account many factors including for example:

  • Impact and safety of staff and guests
  • Impact on the reputation of the venue
  • Impact on the local clientele
  • Nature of the act
  • Whether such performances are regular
  • Whether the conduct could be seen as affronting
  • Culture of the local area

What might be appropriate at a pub in an industrial precinct might not be appropriate at a venue that focuses on accommodation or attracts families

Venues that cancel a booking based on are often originally not aware of the full details or nature of the booking. They could be informed that there will be a ‘lecture’ without any reference to the speaker or issue to be discussed, and as long as the venue has space, they will most likely book it in.

However, the venue has the right to rescind that booking if subsequently the event turns out to have the potential to cause safety concerns or damage to reputation.

Importantly, there is no right or wrong in making such decisions – it is up to the judgement of the licensee involved taking into account local circumstances.