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Updates to help with COVID-19 cancellations

In HomeAway’s nearly 25 years, we’ve been through a lot, but nothing comes close to the current challenges facing our holidaymakers, partners, and team members around the world.

HomeAway is a two-sided marketplace, so for every holidaymaker who paid hard-earned money for a getaway they may not take, there is a partner who is experiencing a loss of bookings and a large number of cancellations. Despite this, the vast majority of you are rising to the occasion and giving credits and/or refunds to holidaymakers in these extreme circumstances. Thank you for exemplifying hospitality — even when it means a financial hardship.

Today, we are introducing our COVID-19 Emergency Policy, a series of measures designed to help navigate these extraordinary circumstances.

For our part, HomeAway is refunding 100% of the money it makes through traveller service fees when someone must cancel a trip due to COVID-19.

For your part, we ask that you handle cancellations for trips booked before March 13 with stays that fall between March 13 and April 30 in one of two ways (even if those trips are outside of your set cancellation policy):

Option 1 (Default): Offer a credit for full value and flexible stay dates within the next year (at no additional cost) to holidaymakers who can’t take trips now due to COVID-19.

Option 2: If a holidaymaker is unwilling to accept a credit, we advise you to issue them a refund. If you are unable to accommodate a full refund, HomeAway expects you to provide at least a 50% refund if the holidaymaker cancels during this time.

Our intent is to reward HomeAway partners who offer holidaymakers flexibility during this time of uncertainty with additional visibility in holidaymaker searches on HomeAway and Expedia Group. The idea is that the more you do now for holidaymakers, the more we will reward you moving forward (so a 100% credit/refund will count more than 50% refund and so on).

Here’s more on what HomeAway is doing as part of our COVID-19 Emergency Policy:

Full Refund of HomeAway’s Fees: HomeAway is refunding 100% of the money it makes through traveller service fees when someone must cancel a trip due to COVID-19, whether the cancellation is government-mandated or not. This goes into effect for all stays booked before March 13 with a night between 13th March and 30th April. Holidaymakers don’t have to do anything to collect the refund; it will happen automatically over the next few weeks. They do not need to call and confirm.

Rolling Out Automated Refunds: Our teams are also working to make refunds and date changes to bookings easier for you. Details on this new process will be communicated in the coming days, so we ask that you wait to call our Customer Service line until that happens. We acknowledge that credits for future dates will be administered between our partners and holidaymakers, so we only ask that your teams acknowledge the arrangement in writing — ideally via our secure messaging system.

Automatically Waiving Related Cancellation Penalties: If you need to cancel due to this event, we will automatically waive the cancellation so it does not impact your ranking metrics. You no longer have to call Customer Service to get the cancellation waived, just select COVID-19 as the cancellation reason code and refund at the minimum 50% to be eligible.

The new policy we are implementing is not perfect, but in this unprecedented time we believe it strikes the best balance of protecting holidaymakers, partners, and the public. I am sure many of you have questions. We primarily want you to understand the spirit of how we hope to address this situation. Please review our help portal for the most up-to-date information. These resources will be updated every 48 hours with new information.

We have been in contact with thousands of you in the past days and I am humbled by your willingness to rise to the occasion and appreciate your sacrifices.

The skies will clear and families will want to travel again. We will be there with open arms to provide spaces to heal and recharge when this is over.

With admiration and appreciation for your partnership,

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Sorry I’m a little slow on the uptake: does this mean they are switching to Airbnb-like policies?

Dunno, didn’t read it, just C&P’d it :smile:

Unless our HA guests leave it till after the grace period, they can all cancel penalty free just now.


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Not as I read it, since they’re actually giving the hosts both guidance and options.

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Do you suppose they are getting push back from guests? Threats of lawsuits? They are suddenly feeling compassionate? They are just CYA—make it clear it’s the HOSTS, not them that are doing whatever?

Idk, I think it’s just in their corporate culture to support and empower hosts. It indicates that most hosts are voluntarily doing the best ‘right thing’ they can afford to do. They ‘expect’ us to give at least a 50% refund but aren’t forcing us to. I reckon they believe that hosts who don’t do right by their customers won’t have customers, but that reflects on the host not the platform. It is pretty clear that they’re leaving it up to hosts to decide, why would a customer blame HA/Vrbo for the host’s decisions? And @RiverRock posted a nice message that shows at least one person would be understanding if a host kept a portion of the reservation fee and refunded a portion on a booking that ordinarily would be 100% non-refundable.

I like this suggested resolution and will try to keep it in mind with future cancellation seekers. Of course, they could change dates and then promptly cancel on me … Hopefully, since I didn’t think about that immediately, I will have guests as “undevious” as I :crossed_fingers:

I want to help as much as possible and I’m glad, in this instance, that Airbnb doesn’t pre-pay out like VRBO (used to). I’m trying to look at this as “well, I don’t have the money to have budgeted yet” and am glad that I’m not having to refund. That would be very frightening!

Sounds like they got a lot of “feedback” from VRBO guests that were not offered refunds from VRBO hosts and they realized what the fallout could be after the crisis is over.

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Yes, exactly. If a guest complains, they can just point to this new policy and say “Look. This is what we told the host to do. If they don’t do it, it’s not our fault. The host is keeping your money, not us.”

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No, they’re just pretending to switch to Airbnb-like policies to pacify the angry guests. I doubt they have a blanket “we can do what we want when we want” in their ToS that will allow them to do what Airbnb did.


Which, as a host, I prefer. I have one VRBO guest on the books. I like knowing that I get decide how to handle it if they want to cancel.

They are feeling the heat. At times like this, doing the right thing will come back to benefit in the future. Doing the wrong thing may help in the short run, but will likely forever lose a client.

And while we’re sorting out doing the right thing. I suggest that you reach out to your local Mom/Pop’s and support them. I just ordered takeout from a restaurant I frequent … They were VERY grateful for the ongoing support. I plan to also purchase a gift card.


And given the choice by VRBO, this is what we decided to do when our 2nd of 2 upcoming bookings inquired about canceling.

The first was with Air and we had no choice, even though I proactively contacted her the minute I learned her event was postponed and made it look like I was offering anyway. We would have done the same thing because I believe in karma/the law of attraction. But it felt a lot better when it was my choice.


Incidentally, VRBO is using carrots and sticks:

Actually, it’s the other way around. About a week ago, VRBO sent out a letter to all of their hosts telling them to refund 100%. VRBO CS were instructed to tell all the guests that called that the host would refund 100%, no matter what the hosts’ cancellation policy was. (I had personal experience with this). Many hosts I know were not offering refunds, but offered to reschedule sometime with 12 months, and they resented VRBO telling guests they would give 100% refunds. Many VRBO hosts get paid at least 60 days before the trip starts, and are in a huge cash-flow pinch when everyone cancels and gets a 100% refund unexpectedly.
So VRBO softened their stance and (presumably) have stopped telling guests to expect a 100% refund.

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