In an effort to enhance consumer rights, the California Legislature has introduced a new measure that allows guests to cancel hotel bookings within 24 hours of confirmation for a full refund. Senate Bill 644 (Glazer, D), effective July 1, 2024, brings significant changes to the hotel industry. This article provides a comprehensive overview of these changes, their implications, and practical examples to help both hoteliers and guests navigate the new landscape.

Introduction to Senate Bill 644

Senate Bill 644, authored by Senator Steve Glazer, aims to provide consumers with greater flexibility and protection when booking hotel accommodations. The bill allows guests to cancel their booking within 24 hours of confirmation and receive a full refund within 30 days of cancellation. This legislation is designed to address consumer concerns about the rigidity of hotel cancellation policies and to enhance overall guest satisfaction.

Effective Date and Enforcement

The new rules take effect on July 1, 2024. Enforcement of these provisions will be carried out by various authorities, including city, county, and state attorney generals, as well as county counsels. This multi-layered approach ensures that the law is uniformly applied across California, offering robust protection to consumers while providing clear guidelines for hotels.

Scope of the 24-Hour Cancellation Rule

Applicable Bookings

The rule applies to hotel bookings made at least 72 hours before the check-in time. For example, if a guest makes a reservation at 3 PM on August 1 for a stay beginning at 4 PM on August 5, they can cancel the reservation with a full refund until 3 PM on August 2.

Non-applicable Scenarios

The rule does not cover reservations made for negotiated rates that are not available to the general public, bookings where the hotel is undisclosed until after confirmation, and reservations confirmed before July 1, 2024.

Booking Timing

For a booking confirmed at 3 PM on August 1 for a stay on August 5, the guest can cancel until 3 PM on August 2. However, if the confirmation is received at 5 PM on August 1, the reservation falls outside the scope of this law.

Special Rates

If a hotel negotiates a special rate with a meeting planner or a corporation, these rates are not subject to the 24-hour cancellation rule. For example, a corporate rate negotiated for employees is exempt from this measure.

Undisclosed Hotels

Programs where the hotel is not disclosed until after booking confirmation are also exempt. For instance, if a guest books a trip with multiple hotel options and is informed of the specific hotel only after booking, this rule does not apply.

Limitations of the Rule

Negotiated Rates

Special rates negotiated for events or corporate deals are excluded from the 24-hour cancellation policy. This ensures that hotels can offer competitive rates for large groups without the risk of last-minute cancellations.

Booking Dates

Reservations confirmed before July 1, 2024, are not subject to this rule. This limitation provides a clear cutoff date for the application of the law.

Modification Policies

The measure primarily targets new bookings and does not clearly address modifications to existing reservations. To avoid confusion, it is recommended that hotels differentiate between confirmation and modification in their communication.

Impact on Consumers


Consumers benefit from increased flexibility and the assurance that they can cancel within 24 hours without financial penalty. This change aims to enhance customer satisfaction and trust in hotel services.

Potential Drawbacks

While the rule provides more flexibility, it may lead to stricter booking policies or higher rates to offset potential last-minute cancellations. Consumers need to be aware of these possible changes.

Impact on Hotels

Operational Changes

Hotels will need to adjust their booking systems, websites, and communication templates to comply with the new law. This includes updating central reservation systems and mobile apps.

Training Requirements

Staff training is crucial to ensure that reservation agents understand the new rules and can communicate them effectively to guests. Regular reviews and updates will be necessary, especially as the implementation date approaches.

Implementation Tips for Hoteliers

Process Review

Hoteliers should review their current booking processes to identify areas that need adjustment. This includes ensuring that all customer and employee touchpoints are updated.

System Updates

Updating hotel websites, reservation systems, and mobile apps is essential to reflect the new cancellation policies. This ensures a seamless experience for guests and compliance with the law.

Staff Training

Training programs should be developed to educate staff on the new rules and how to handle cancellations within the specified timeframe. This training should be ongoing to address any changes or updates to the policy.

Challenges and Legal Considerations

Enforcement Issues

Enforcing the new rules may present challenges, particularly in cases where there is ambiguity about the application of the law. Clear guidelines and consistent communication from authorities will be necessary to address these issues.

Legal Challenges

There may be legal challenges to the new measure, especially concerning its applicability to bookings made by California residents in other states. Ongoing advocacy and legal reviews will be important to address these challenges.

Future Amendments and Proposals

Proposed Changes

The author of Senate Bill 644 is considering amendments to extend the rule to bookings made by California residents in other states. This proposal was shelved in 2023 due to constitutional concerns but may be revisited in the future.

Advocacy Efforts

Organizations like the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) are actively working to address potential changes and ensure that the interests of the hospitality industry are considered in any future legislation.