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OTA Policy Updates
6 min read

OTA Policy Updates

Summary: This page will help you navigate your cancellations based on which OTA or listing site you use. Knowing how each is handling the crisis will also help you choose which to trust moving forward.

AIRBNB (and Hotel Tonight)

  • UPDATE on Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances Cancellation Policy, last updated 1 June 2020, now includes reservation for stays and experienced made on or before 14 March 2020 with a check-indate between that date and 15 July 2020 may be cancelled before check-in.  Guest's options include cancellation and refunds.  Cancellation will not affect hosts' Superhost status.
  • UPDATE on Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances Cancellation Policy, last updated 1 May 2020, now includes reservations for stays and experiences made prior to 14 March 2020, with a check-in date between that date and 15 June 2020.  Reservations for stays and Experiences after 14 March 2020 will not be covered by this policy, unless the host or guest is sick with COVID-19; host's cancellation policy will apply as usual.  Differing policies apply for Luxe/Luxury Retreats and domestic reservations in mainland China.
  • UPDATE on Airbnb announced $250 million fund for hosts impacted (who wasn't!) by their cancellation policy, last updated 30 March 2020, for stays booked on or before 14 March with a check-in between 14 March and 31 May 2020.  Airbnb will pay hosts 25% of what they would have received for a cancellation,  based on your cancellation policy - hosts will be contacted by email in early April.  Brian Chesky offered words of encouragement in a now-archived broadcast on 30 March at 3 PM PST.
  • Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances Cancellation Policy, last updated 19 March 2020:  Guests may cancel stays or experiences and receive a full refund if they were made before 14 March 2020 and schedule between 14 March and 14 April 2020.  If these stays and experiences were made after 14 March 2020, this policy will not apply unless the guest or host is sick with COVID-19.
  • UPDATE: Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, is helping hosts prepare for the future of travel through this 27-minute video, dated 28 April 2020, by introducing their Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, helping hosts secure future bookings, updating COVID-19 cancellations and support payments (pay attention to Brian's explanations) and clarifying eligibility for their Superhost Relief Fund.  A new reservation dashboard with cancellation information should be available 1 May 2020.  These video updates will continue weekly or as needed.
  • UPDATE: Short-term rentals have been banned through April* in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, and many counties and cities. (* check local news sources for detailed information).  Some communities, such as Whitefish, Montana have extended this ban for all lodging through 10 May 2020.  Florida continues to ban vacation rentals during  its Phase One of Re-Open Florida Task Force report.
  • UPDATE: During the Mexico's quarantine in through 30 April, vacation rentals are considered non-essential unless housing emergency health personnel.  Airbnb has temporarily blocked calendars for making new reservations in Mexico for the month of April.
  • UPDATE: as of 8 April, in an effort to thwart recent bad news, all Airbnb "Experiences" are now online only.
  • UPDATE: Airbnb, as of 7 April, is providing information on local government restrictions on travel (personally I can't be sure how accurate they can be with rapid and continuous changes in policy).
  • Airbnb wants to save (as in, not spend) $800 million in 2020, last updated 27 March 2020.  Marketing activities will be suspended; founders (Chesky, Gebbia and Lehane) will take no salary for six months; top execs get 50% pay cut; hiring will be paused; no employee bonuses; impacts to hosts (see below)
  • Airbnb is temporarily changing their Super Strict 30 & 60 cancellation policies, last updated 26 March 2020.  Airbnb will no longer send payouts in advance to hosts with these Super Strict policies - hosts will be paid 24 hours after guests' check-in time.  Airbnb won't charge additional 2% fee for such cancellations.  For now, hosts can't change their cancellation policies to the Super Strict ones.
  • Airbnb is waiving two criteria for Superhosts, last updated 25 March 2020, due to COVID-19: maintaining <1% cancellation rate and hosting >= 10 stays / year
  • Airbnb Luxe Guest Refund Policy, last updated on 20 March 2020, states that for reservations booked prior to that date and arriving prior to 14 April 2020, Airbnb will waive cancellation penalties for guests and apply past payments toward future travel with check-in date on or before 1 January 2022.  Guests who postpone will also receive a coupon for a future booking by 1 January 2022 worth 20% of your original property booking value (excluding taxes and fees).
  • A Message from Airbnb Founders, last updated 17 March 2020
  • Airbnb’s Economic Recovery Letter to Congress, last updated 17 March 2020
  • Hotel Tonight (owned by Airbnb), last updated on 20 March 2020: Same as Airbnb's cancellation policy issued on 19 March 2020, but includes advice for hotels temporarily closed by COVID-19.
  • Airbnb - ways to minimize impact of COVID-19, last Updated 10 March 2020:

If any would like to comment, here are Twitter handles (be civil and professional)

  • Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO @bchesky
  • Chris Lehane, Airbnb SVP for Global Policy & Communications  @chrislehane
  • Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder  @jgebbia
  • Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder @nathanblec
  • Ron Conway, Airbnb investor  @svangel
  • Morgan Stanley, American multinational investment bank  @morganstanley
  • Goldman Sachs, American multinational investment bank  @goldmansachs

@Airbnb @Expedia @TripAdvisor @Bookingcom @TurnkeyVR @Marriott @MarriottBonvoy

EXPEDIA (VRBO, HomeAway, Travelocity, Orbitz, VacationRentals.com, Hotels.com)

  • Vacation rental cancellation policies, last updated 31 May 2020: Their COVID-19 emergency policy has been extended for all stays booked before 13 March 2020 with a stay date between 1 May and 30 June 2020 with returns made through their Traveler Service Fee.  Guests must call to request this refund.
  • Vacation rental cancellation policies for Expedia and its affiliates are identical, last updated 16 April 2020:  Their COVID-19 emergency policy has been extended for trips for all stays booked before 20 March with a stay date between 1 and 31 June 2020.  Bookings made on 20 March or later for trips between 1 and 30 June 2020, guests are aware of the risks so these bookings will not be subject to their force majeure policy.
  • For all the bookings made after 20 March 2020 with check-in in May, Expedia will apply the host's cancellation policy.   Non-refundable bookings made before 20 March with check in in May, Expedia will provide a full credit for a future stay with check-in date within one year from original booking.
  • Expedia (VRBO, etc.) updated their cancellation policy on 7 April (but I haven't deciphered the difference from the previous policy).  If guests wish to cancel outside of the dates below, they must contact the owner or manager.
  • Vacation rental cancellation policies for Expedia and its affiliates are identical, last updated 25 March 2020:  For all stays booked before 13 March with a stay night between 13 March and 30 April, owners and managers are asked to offer full credit to be applied to a future booking withing the next year.  Or owners and managers can issue a partial refund if a full credit isn't workable.  Expedia is refunding their service fee on all cancellations during these dates.
  • For stays after 30 April, guests should purchase travel insurance, cancel their booking, or reschedule.
  • Expedia offers advice on how to change or cancel travel plans due to COVID-19.

TRIPADVISOR

  • UPDATE: TripAdvisor cancellation policy allows travelers to receive full refunds when cancelling their booking starting on or before 31 July 2020 (no cancellation fee).  For bookings starting between 1 August and 31 August 2020, the host's cancellation policy will apply, but TripAdvisor will not charge a cancellation fee
  • UPDATE: TripAdvisor posted "What you need to know COVID-19."
  • TripAdvisor cancellation policy has been overridden such that host will not be charged a cancellation fee and the traveller will receive a full refund, for any bookings starting on or before 31 May 2020.  Hosts should encourage their guests to rebook to a later time.  For bookings on or after 1 June 2020, the hosts' cancellation policy will apple.

BOOKING.COM

Booking.com's Force Majeure/Forced Circumstances, last updated 23 April 2020, asks hosts to respect guests to 1) rebook their guests for a future stay, 2) provide a voucher for a future stay for the paid amount, or more if the host wishes or 3) to provide a full refund of any prepayments or deposits.  A very comprehensive summary of policies for most nations, regions, states, provinces, counties and cities are provided.

Booking.com's new COVID-19 policy changes, last updated 3 April 2020, apply to reservations made on or after 6 April 2020.  Their Force Majeure policy will no longer apply, placing the burden on the guests.  Hosts will be in control of whether, when and how to refund COVID-19-relate guest cancellations.  Booking.com will emphasize the risks that the guests are taking in makeing a reservation.

Booking.com's cancellation policy, last updated 25 March 2020, expects partners to refund prepayments and waive any cancellation costs (fees, expenses, and/or other amounts) in situations where the guests/travelers requested cancellations as a result of Force Majeure. In these cases, Booking.com will waive their commission.

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