Fans of the Rolling Stones will have to wait another day before their show at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, thanks to Tropical Storm Barry. The storm is expected to become a minimal hurricane, but maybe more important, it could dump 10-15 inches of rain on New Orleans. Combined with flooding from earlier this week, it makes sense to give the city an extra day to recover from the storm.
This is obviously not an ideal situation. Monday is a regular workday, so anyone that planned to go on Sunday night and be back at work (even if a bit late) on Monday will have to re-work their plans. There are plenty of Rolling Stones fans flying in from all over the country, as well, but the airlines are offering change fee waivers in the wake of this storm. For fans on the Central Gulf Coast, it's obviously a lot less complicated. No airfare to worry about, but many of us have hotel reservations in a city where most hotels normally enforce a 72-hour cancellation policy. There has already been a big spike in cancellations for this weekend, according to nola.com. My advice is to call your hotel, because there's a good chance they'll re-book your room at no charge.
I had a reservation at the Intercontinental New Orleans for Sunday night. To save money, I made it non-cancellable, non-changeable, non-refundable. Uh oh! But when I called reservations and explained the situation, they didn't bat an eye and changed the reservation to Monday night. Intercontinental Hotels Group (which operates a bunch of hotel brands including Holiday Inn) hasn't published a specific policy about changes during Barry, but they have a general policy to work with customers in the event of unplanned weather or natural disasters.
At Marriott, which controls more than 30% of hotel rooms in New Orleans, their website says hotels in the impacted areas are "reviewing their cancellation fees." They ask customers to use the Marriott app or go to marriott.com to modify or cancel reservations. I'd still call if you're unable to make a change online.
Expect to find flexible policies with most (if not all) hotel chains serving the city. Local, independent hotels in New Orleans have a much better handle on the situation and will almost certainly accommodate the change in schedule. The Chateau LeMoyne French Quarter tells nola.com that they are offering refunds on prepaid rooms and free cancellations due to Barry. General Manager Ben Turner says: "We don’t want to cause any problems for guests who planned to stay with us over these few days."
The new date could also make it impossible for you to go. Any tickets purchased for Sunday's show will of course be valid on Monday night. But when it comes to refunds, this is the policy as listed on Ticketmaster's website:
When events are postponed or rescheduled: You will be contacted via phone or email with the new event information as soon as we are updated.
Unless notified otherwise, your tickets will be valid for the new event date
If you are unable to make the new event date and refunds have been approved by the artist, team, venue, or promoter, you will see a "Refund" button within your order in your Ticketmaster account.
We've put the most important line in boldface: refunds have to be "approved by the artist, team, venue, or promoter." And the good news, that's exactly what has happened. While I was writing this blog, I received both an email and phone call from Ticketmaster with refund information. They said to "click the Refund link on your order in My Account on your computer or mobile device (you won't see the link in your app)." I checked again after getting that call, and sure enough...
You could list the tickets on a secondary market (StubHub, SeatGeek, etc) and get what you can for them. But the refund route is your better option at this point. I'm afraid that the secondary market will be flooded with cheap tickets for a Monday night show, if it isn't already.