Conde Nast reports how COVID-19 is having major repercussions on the travel industry, with cruise lines pre-screening passengers and stepping up their already stringent cleaning measure, while some airlines are reviewing their cancellation and change policies.
Hotels are also doing what they can to minimize the impact on guests whose travel plans have changed, but cancellation policies may not always be as flexible, since cancellation will depend on whether guests booked directly with the hotel or through a third-party agency.
Brands including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Marriott and IHG are implementing policies such as re-booking, refunding and modification and cancellation waivers, depending on location.
When it comes to third party bookings, some travel advisors are suggesting that clients take a “wait-and-see” approach while the situation evolves, especially where 30-day hotel cancellation policies are in place. They are also urging clients to purchase cancel-for-any-reason (CFAR) insurance policies for any future trips and taking out additional travel insurance for existing bookings, to cover medical expenses.
Expedia is highlighting refundable hotels and ‘Free Cancellation’ options, while recommending buying its own Vacation Waiver which covers changes and cancellations on a single occasion.
Some short-term rental companies are also softening cancellation policies, with Airbnb for one having a six-tier cancellation policy already, generally set by the host. Its Extenuating Circumstances policy further protects travellers from cancellation penalties due to unforeseen circumstances, although currently only protects those going to or coming from areas deemed to be high-risk for the virus.