If you or your guest cannot honor a booking due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), you have several options: 
  • Offer your guests a credit for the full value of the original booking and flexible stay dates within the next year if the booking is for stay dates up to and including June 30th.
  • Modify the booking for a future date. 
  • Cancel the booking. 
Before you can issue your guest a credit for a future stay, your guest must agree to receive a credit for their booking in writing through our secure messaging system. 
 
To issue a credit for a future stay: 
  1. Log in to your account.
  2. If you have more than one listing, click on the appropriate property.
  3. Click Reservation manager in the navigation menu.
  4. Select Reservations list.
  5. Select the appropriate reservation.
  6. Once the guest agrees to receive a credit for their booking, you must document the agreement between you and the guest in writing so you have a record of the agreed-upon terms. This must be done through our secure messaging system. We recommend including details like the credit value, stay length, and when the credit should be redeemed by.
  7. Click Cancel Reservation.  
  8. Select Credit for booking as the reason for canceling (only available for bookings with stay dates up to and including June 30th).
  9. Select I want to refund 0% as the refund option. 
  10. Click Continue.
  11. Click Cancellation Refund to confirm the action. 
To view all the credits you’ve issued to guests, go to your Inbox, click the All messages drop-down menu, and select COVID-19 credit.

Credit redemption 
To redeem a credit, the guest should submit an inquiry from the appropriate listing with the dates they would like to book. The guest will ideally contact you through the original reservation message indicating they want to redeem the credit. The following steps will guide you through the credit redemption process. 
  1. Instruct your guest to locate the property page and click Ask owner a question or Ask manager a question.
  2. After your guest enters their desired stay dates, they should reference your credit agreement and credit value in their message.
  3. To apply the credit, navigate to your inbox and select the appropriate inquiry.
  4. Click Edit quote or dates to edit the inquiry.
  5. Edit the rental amount; deduct the credit value from the rental amount in the inquiry to determine the remainder. Note: The rental amount must be greater than 0. If the booking and credit values are the same, input a value as close to 0 as possible in the applicable currency; have your guest call customer service to refund the Vrbo traveler service fee charged in this scenario. This is a single-use credit, so any unused portions of the credit value will not be refunded.
  6. Add damage protection as needed.
  7. Click Save
  8. Customize your message as needed, and click Reply & pre-approve

To cancel a booking (if your guest does not agree to a credit):
  1. Select the appropriate reservation from the Reservations list in your account. 
  2. Click Cancel Reservation.
  3. Select Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the reason for canceling. 
  4. Select the refund amount. 
  5. Click Continue.
  6. Click Cancellation Refund to confirm the action. 

Credit value
The full credit value is the amount the guest has paid minus any damage protection (such as the refundable damage deposit or property damage protection), traveler service fee, and any lodging taxes we have collected. 

Fees and deposits
When you issue a credit for a future stay, the traveler service fee will not be refunded and will instead be automatically applied to the future booking. If the new booking amount and the credit are the same value, your traveler will need to call customer service to get the traveler service fee charged on the new booking refunded. If a refundable damage deposit or property damage protection was paid, it will be returned when a credit is issued or a booking is canceled. When the guest redeems the credit, Property Damage Protection or a damage deposit can be added to the new booking.

Lodging taxes
Lodging taxes we collect will be refunded to the guest in full when a credit is issued. Lodging taxes you collect are your responsibility to adjust as appropriate.

Credit expiration dates
Ultimately, this is an agreement between the partner and the traveler, but we recommend that credits be available for use a minimum of 365 days post the original checkout date. 

Change in ownership or property management
If your property changes owners or property management companies, we expect the new owner or manager to honor any credits issued to guests. You should transfer all documentation to the new owner or manager and inform the guest of this change. If the new owner or manager cannot honor the credit, you are expected to pay the guest back for the value of the credit, at which point the guest can contact us to refund service fees.

For more guidance on our response to COVID-19, please refer to this article

For additional information on offering a credit for booking, please refer to the questions we’ve outlined below. 

What is a credit for booking?
A credit for booking is an agreement between you and the guest that allows a guest to apply the full value of a booking already paid to a single future stay. This offers guests the flexibility to plan a future stay when they are better suited to travel and offers you the opportunity to retain the booking.

What stay dates can credits be issued for?
Using the Credit for booking cancellation code, credits can be issued for bookings with stay dates up to and including June 30th. Credits should no longer be offered for bookings with stay dates beyond June 30th, except in those regions which require the option. We do encourage continued flexibility with travelers. If you already issued a credit for a booking with stay dates after June 30th that your guest agreed to, that credit is still valid for use based on the agreed terms. 

Does the guest have to agree to the credit?
The guest must agree to the credit and this agreement must be captured in our secure messaging system. The documented agreement is needed to help defend the transaction in the event of a chargeback from the traveler credit card.

When you say "flexible stay dates," what does that mean? 
When you give a credit to a guest, that guest should be able to book your property for any future date that the property is available; we encourage you to remove blackout dates. If the guest changes the season, length of stay, or other aspects of the booking that results in a higher price than the original booking, the guest will pay the difference between the new booking quote and the full value credit as outlined in your agreement. 

You said a credit for booking should be “at no additional cost” but my pricing and cost structure can change all the time, can you give more clarity? 
A credit for booking should put both you and the guest into the same position you would have been if the initial stay had taken place. We understand that some elements of the stay may change in a way that may increase the price from the previous booking, for instance, seasonal rates or length of stay. You should document any agreed-upon price changes in our system. Guests should not be penalized for accepting a credit or surprised with significant fees, cost increases, or other expenses that were not part of the initial booking.

What should I consider including in the credit for booking agreement? 
Ultimately you and the guest must agree on all terms. Some terms to consider documenting are:
  • Credit value: the full value agreed upon to be deducted from the future booking.
  • Expiration date of the credit; we recommend this to be at least 365 days post the checkout date of the original booking.
  • Stay dates that the credit is applicable and if checkout is within that range; avoid the use of blackout dates.
  • Availability and rates terms; the guest should not be surprised with fees based on using a credit; however, rates and availability are subject to demand and seasonality.
  • The applicable cancellation policy.
  • House rules that must be reconfirmed with new booking.

What cancellation policy is enacted if a guest chooses a credit?
The future stay credit agreement should outline cancellation terms to be agreed upon between you and the guest as it pertains to the future booking.

When will I get paid if I issue a credit? 
  • If a booking is paid in full and payout timing is early payout: your payment has been processed
  • If a booking is paid in full and payout timing is check-in payout: you will be paid after you issue the credit, usually within 30 days
  • If a booking is partially paid for and installments are still to be paid, the credit will only apply to the amount already paid and the remaining portion associated with the initial booking will not be collected at this time. The credit will apply to a future booking at which time the difference in payment can be collected through the platform.

If I offer a credit but there is still a payment to be made by the guest, how do I go about charging the second payment?
If the guest is on a split payment, the credit will only apply to the payments already received, the additional payments for the original booking will not be collected from the guest at this time. The guest can use the amount already paid to deduct from a future booking quote, as outlined in your credit for booking agreement.

Can a guest initiate the credit process?
A guest cannot initiate the credit process at this time. When a guest cancels, we will outline a few options for them, including the ability to message you to discuss a credit for booking.

Can guests apply the credit to a different listing owned or managed by the same property owner or manager versus the one the booking was originated on?
The credit agreement should outline which properties the credit can apply to and be agreed upon by both you and the guest. We recommend being as flexible as possible, within the bounds of your business operations.

I issued a credit for a booking with stay dates after June 30th, will my cancellation still be waived?
Any cancellations made prior to May 15 using the credit for booking cancellation reason code will still be waived regardless of stay dates. Partners with properties in regions where credits are required to be an option will still have access to this cancellation code for bookings, however, you will need to call customer support to get this cancellation waived.

I use a software to manage my account, how do I offer a credit?
If you are a property manager using integrated software, you should look to the solutions offered through your software to offer credits. You should also document the credit in writing to ensure that you and the guest have a record of the communication and the agreed-upon terms. Please see our article for property managers using integrated software for more guidance on how COVID-19 may affect your bookings.