Updates to help with COVID-19 cancellations: A message to our property owners

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

Vrbo is a two-sided marketplace, so for every traveller who paid 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 travellers 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, Vrbo is refunding 100% of 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 travellers who can’t take trips now due to COVID-19.

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

Here’s how Vrbo will enforce the policy stated above:

  • Vrbo will reward partners with additional visibility and attractiveness in traveller searches. The more you do now for travellers, the more we will reward you moving forward (so a 100% credit/refund will count more than 50% refund).

  • Partners who do not abide by these standards (offering a 100% credit/refund of at least a 50%) will be disadvantaged vis-à-vis those who that act within our policy.

  • Any intimidation of travellers (such as suggesting that travel is safer for them than staying home or dismissing the severity of the crisis) will result in permanent removal from Vrbo and Expedia Group.

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

  • Full Refund of Vrbo’s Fees: Vrbo 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 in effect for all stays booked before March 13 with a night between March 13 and April 30. Travellers 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 travellers, 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 or your Premier Partner status. 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 travellers, 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 and Discovery Hub 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,

Jeff President, Vrbo