I have travelled extensively in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and have never had the experience of arriving at a hotel which was overbooked. However, I have been working in hotels for the past 5 years. Most hotels overbook as a matter of policy, and as a Front Office Supervisor, I would be the one informing the unsuspecting guests that they were moving.
Firstly, let me say, it was the part of my job I dreaded most. I know what it’s like to arrive at your hotel after a long journey – you just want to get to your room and relax. To be told there isn’t a room available is annoying, to say the least. But it is NOT the fault of the Front Desk staff – they don’t make the decision to overbook, so taking out your annoyance on them is futile.
The decision on who to move is generally made on a number of factors such as the number of nights booked (usually only people staying 1 night would be moved) and the rate being paid (the hotel will not want to lose money, so if they have to book out to a higher rated hotel, they will choose someone who has booked at a high rate).
In any good hotel, they will do their best to accommodate you at an equivalent or better hotel at no extra cost to you. Arrangements should already be in place by the time you arrive, in order the minimize the time it takes for you to get to your new hotel.
If you are unfortunate to be in the position of being booked out to another hotel, becoming angry with staff will not only be futile, but could be counter-productive. If a guest I am booking out takes the news well, I am more likely to offer them a free meal or a drink. If someone makes a bad situation worse by being abusive to me, I will do my best to get them out as quickly as possible, and they are unlikely to be invited back to dine for free in our restaurant!
So, in a nutshell – stay calm, make sure you understand what is being offered by way of compensation and ALWAYS write down the name of the person who dealt with you. You can later praise that person, or if complaining, your complaint will be more effective.
A good way of avoiding being the one who is moved is to phone the hotel the day before you arrive to confirm your reservation and if possible give an arrival time. Again, get the name of the person you spoke to. If a hotel is sure you are coming, they are not going to choose to move you.