What travelers need to know – Orange County Register

Laurie Baratti | (TNS) VoyagePulse

Leading vacation rental company Airbnb is updating its Extenuating Circumstances Policy, including renaming it Major Disruptive Events Policy “to better reflect its purpose.” This will provide greater flexibility for travelers who may need to cancel their reservation when unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters, extreme weather events and government-mandated travel restrictions, impact their ability to complete their stay.

Under this updated cancellation policy, guests can cancel their reservations and receive refunds in the event of “foreseeable weather events,” such as hurricanes, that would cause another covered event to occur, such as large-scale utility outages. According to Travel + Leisure, the policy already applies to other “unexpected major events,” such as declared public health emergencies, including disease outbreaks, but excluding COVID-19. This revised policy, which takes effect June 6, replaces each host’s own cancellation policies.

This updated policy also applies to mid-trip cancellations, allowing travelers to receive a refund for the unused portion of their stay in the event of a covered cancellation.

However, it is important to note that Airbnb’s policy does not cover all unforeseen incidents, such as injuries, illnesses, or government-mandated requirements such as jury duty or court appearances.

“The changes to this policy, including its new name, have been made to create clarity for our travelers and hosts, and ensure it meets the diverse needs of our global community,” said Juniper Downs, manager of Airbnb’s community policy, in a press release. “Our goal was to clearly explain when the policy applies to a booking and provide fair and consistent results to our users. These updates also bring the policy in line with industry standards.

The introduction of this revised policy aligns with Airbnb’s recent efforts to build guest confidence in booking shared stays. For example, earlier this month it banned indoor security cameras in its rental homes worldwide over privacy concerns and, in 2022, instituted a permanent ban on parties, a measure that had initially was temporarily instituted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Last year, to combat fraudulent listings, the company introduced a ‘verified’ status and badge for its rentals, aiming to reassure customers that the specified property actually exists at the specified address and that the host is reliable.

In 2022, Airbnb also updated its policies and platform to provide greater price transparency, displaying total costs, including fees, in user searches and changing its algorithm to rank listings with better total prices higher up in the results. At the same time, Airbnb provided “guidance” to hosts, encouraging them to set only “reasonable” payment requests and requiring that they be displayed in the listing.

“Guests should not have to complete unreasonable payment tasks like dismantling beds, doing laundry, or vacuuming when they leave their Airbnb,” the company wrote in a statement at the time. “But we think it’s reasonable to ask customers to turn off the lights, throw food in the trash and lock the doors, just as they would when leaving their own home.”


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