California Journey Restrictions Ban Quick-Time period Leases. Why Cannot Vacationers Get Refunds?

Travel and travel planning are disrupted by the global spread of the coronavirus. For the latest updates, check out the New York Times Covid-19 coverage here.

The new travel restrictions in California, put in place to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by the pandemic, have reversed vacation planning as travelers cancel their accommodation reservations. Until December 31, it is illegal for all California hotel and short-term renters to make or honor reservations for anyone outside of the state unless they plan to quarantine for 14 days or come for essential purposes such as health care or Infrastructure work. In much of the state, the restrictions are even stricter as only essential travel is allowed.

However, there is a big divide when it comes to cancellation and refund policies. Hotel chains, by and large, host travelers on full refunds. Lots of small hotels do the same thing. However, some large shared apartments like Airbnb and Vrbo tell guests that there is no guarantee they will get their money back.

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Every aspect of the travel industry has taken a major blow during the pandemic, but shared apartments had an advantage over hotels – they are perceived as safer. It is easier to practice social distancing when you have your own entrance and kitchen, and are not around other guests. Short term rentals are considered a pandemic haven for those who work or study remotely and still can afford a trip.

Airbnb, whose recent IPO raised co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky for roughly $ 11 billion by the company’s overall valuation, has one of the strictest policies on lodging cancellation. While the company issued refunds at the beginning of the pandemic and then partially reimbursed hosts, since mid-March it has been of the opinion that guests understand that travel can be disrupted by the pandemic and apply pre-pandemic rules that allow it Hosts can choose between three standard cancellation policies. The payment pages contain information about the cancellation rules. While Airbnb has a “Mitigation Policy”, it specifically states that it will not apply to reservations made after March 14 for any Covid-related circumstance other than actual illness. Individual hosts can agree to a full or partial refund.

Vrbo, an Expedia vacation rental company, follows similar guidelines to Airbnb. The coronavirus resources page encourages travelers to review the property’s cancellation policy. They also apply if your reservation is affected by COVID-19. “Likewise, VRBO’s statement on its” Book with Guarantee of Trust “website states that the guarantee is intended to” protect guests from fraudulent listings and misrepresentations of property. ” Cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances such as COVID-19 do not apply. “Customers who have travel insurance may be able to request a voucher for future dates.

In essence, travelers could shoulder 100 percent of the financial impact of a local closure when booking with the companies.

In an email, Vrbo said it has no plans to change its policy and that “travelers should work directly with the host on an alternative that works for both parties, such as a travel agency. B. the rebooking of the trip or a travel credit that can be used at a later date. “Hosts don’t have to offer these alternatives.

Airbnb said in an email that “our extenuating circumstances policy is designed to protect guests and hosts from unforeseen circumstances that arise after booking,” and that Covid-19 and its aftermath were no longer unexpected following the declaration of a global pandemic in March , including the risk of continued or new travel and movement restrictions. “It was advised that hosts choose a degree of flexibility in listing their homes for rent and that tenants are informed of the policy when they reserve.

These guidelines don’t go well with guests like AJ Sheffield, a Silicon Valley software engineer who booked an Airbnb in Southern California for December with his girlfriend and kids. When the Stay At Home order was declared and he requested a refund from Airbnb, the company cited his rule and the refund was denied. “I understand they created the policy based on previous bans, but this is more serious,” Sheffield said, citing the fact that Airbnb is home Rents could remain open in previous shutdowns. Under current rules, hosts are breaking the law by continuing to rent for non-essential trips.

“Should we just score with every new situation?” he asked. “Should we just never book with them again until we can be sure the government won’t surprise us with new restrictions?”

In contrast, the major hotel chains have tried to financially accommodate guests in the wake of the pandemic. According to the company, Hyatt California hotels will proactively notify guests of the new California travel restrictions prior to their arrival. The more flexible cancellation policy the company put in place at the start of the pandemic remains in place. Hilton Hotels will notify affected guests via email and cancel reservations made by guests outside of the state for a full refund, the company said. Marriott recently extended its cancellation policy to the end of March 2021. IHG continues to extend dates for guests who have had non-refundable prepaid bookings in order to be able to cancel without cancellation.

Some smaller hotels are also trying to accommodate travelers’ changing plans. Patty Baird owns the Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee, near two major ski areas and in an area now only accessible to essential travelers. Ms. Baird has predicted there will be travel disruptions and has been taking reservations since late spring with no deposit required. Therefore, there is no negative financial impact for guests who cancel or reschedule. Much of her clientele returns year after year, she said. “We would never incriminate them if they couldn’t come,” she said. Those who come are asked to sign a statement stating that they are there for important trips.

Ms. Baird reaches out to people with reservations, but some are trying to play the system, she said. “If you are a key worker taking a few days of vacation, it isn’t considered an essential trip,” she said. As a small hotel owner, she wished the government would provide financial assistance to make up for the closings, which will run through at least the end of the year. “This is our busiest time of year,” she said.

However, travelers receive a message to stop coming. According to Transparent, a company that analyzes vacation rental information for 35 million listings worldwide, 47 percent fewer reservations were made in California in the first week of December 2020 than in the same week in 2019.

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