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  • James von der Lieth

VRBO Expands Coronavirus Refund Policy; Threatens to Ban Users who Downplay Coronavirus Severity

In a letter sent to VRBO home owners and property managers, CEO Jeff Hurst has unveiled the first update to the company’s Coronavirus cancellation policy. This response comes after VRBO guests have taken to social media and BuzzFeed to vent their frustrations with home owners who have stood by the contractual cancellation policy during this crisis.

New Policy Summary

  • For those seeking a return of funds, VRBO mandates that hosts provide a 50% refund on their booking. It hopes to reward flexible hosts at some time in the future, but the letter has not clarified how.

  • VRBO has also committed to waiving cancellation penalties going forward and refunding 100% of its own service fee. Stays booked after 13 March between then and 30 April will automatically receive a refund.

  • VRBO plans to ban rental owners who dismiss severity of coronavirus threat to travelers

  • The Coronavirus policy will have new updates every 48 hours

From VRBO's Website

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

  • VRBO will reward partners with additional visibility in traveler searches. The more partners do now for travelers, the more we will reward them 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-a-vis those who act within our policy.

  • Any intimidation of travelers (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.

Earlier this month, VRBO sent a message to travelers stating that the company has encouraged property managers “to adopt more flexible cancellation policies in light of COVID-19” and to offer full refunds to those wishing to cancel because of concerns for their own well-being. However, the company had previously left it up to property owners and managers to determine their own decisions.

CEO of VRBO, Hurst said,

“We realize the new policy we are implementing may not be perfect, but in this unprecedented time we believe it strikes the best balance of protecting travelers, partners and the public.” - Jeffrey Hurst

Travelers who have been unhappy with the VRBO policy, are likely not going to be any happier than before.

Meanwhile, Airbnb has committed to 100% full refunds, attempting to keep their traveler community happy. This has led to backlash from hosts, who are threatening to de-list their properties from Airbnb and/or charge lower prices on other booking platforms that honor their cancellation policies.

What are your thoughts on how VRBO has handled this unfortunate situation? Comment below 👇

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