Coronavirus FAQs

Updated 1 month ago

We know that the current coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on you, your loved ones, and your business. That is why we've done our best to answer some of the most important questions we've had partners such as yourself ask us, and will continue to update this article over the coming days and weeks.

Table of contents

Section 1: Force Majeure and its implications

Section 2: Guidance on reservations and cancellations

Section 3: Ensuring safety and wellbeing


Section 1: Force Majeure and its implications


What is the definition of Force Majeure?

Any of the following events affecting multiple guests and multiple accommodations: act-of-God, (...) (natural) disaster, (...) any local or national emergency, (...), compliance with any order or request of any national, provincial, port or other public authority, government regulation or intervention, (...), civil disorder (...), curtailment of transportation facilities, close down of airports or any other exceptional and catastrophic event, circumstance or emergency, making it impossible, illegal or prevents guests from travelling to or staying at the accommodation.

What does this Force Majeure clause mean in practice?

In the event of a Force Majeure Event, the Accommodation shall not charge (and shall repay (if applicable)) the Guests affected by the Force Majeure Event any fee, costs, expenses or other amount (including the (non-refundable) rate or the no-show, (change of) reservation or cancellation fee) for

(i) any cancellation or change of the reservation made by the Guests, or

(ii) that part of the reservation that was not consumed, due to the Force Majeure Event.

In the event of reasonable and justified doubt, the Accommodation may ask a Guest to provide reasonable evidence of the causality between the Force Majeure Event and cancellation, no-show or change of reservation (and provide Booking.com upon request with a copy of such evidence). In order for Booking.com to register any cancellation, no-show or amendment of the reservation due to a Force Majeure Event, the Accommodation shall inform Booking.com within 2 business days after

(a) the scheduled check out date of the no-show or cancellation, or

(b) check out, the number of days actually stayed.

Booking.com will not charge any commission in the event of a registered no-show or cancellation or over that part of the booking which is not consumed due to the Force Majeure Event.

When does Booking.com declare Force Majeure?

We know the impact is very severe for our partners, but with the coronavirus bringing the world to a stand-still, our top priority is protecting the safety and security of both partners and guests.

We can declare Force Majeure in cases of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or when governments take action to prevent customers from travelling. We have declared Force Majeure only where and when the legal situation is clear.

How do you base your decision to declare Force Majeure?

We have developed criteria based on information and assessments of health risks by both international agencies and governments. We are taking into account measures they suggest or ones they have already taken.

Why do you declare Force Majeure in cases where credit card or insurance companies may be likely to cover a guest's costs?

In our Force Majeure clause, we have always taken the approach of providing refunds to all customers. We do not intend to take a position on other parties' roles during this global health emergency and we cannot assume customers will be covered by some form of insurance.

Do I need to comply with the Force Majeure clause if I have my own property/hotel conditions for such circumstances?

Yes you do. This Force Majeure clause is included in your General Delivery Terms (GDT), which is in your contract with Booking.com.

In times of extenuating circumstances, such as when governments declare travel restrictions to protect public health and safety, when a customer may not be physically able to reach the property, we support them by offering free cancellation or to modify the dates of their stay, when possible. In light of these government-imposed restrictions, if a hotel refunds a customer what they have already paid, Booking.com of course waives any commission, as well.

How long will Force Majeure apply?

Over time, Booking.com customers have become aware of the risks associated with making new reservations, particularly when making Non-Refundable and Partially Refundable bookings. 

For all new reservations made as of 6 April 2020, we will no longer apply Force Majeure conditions that we implemented for guests seeking to cancel or modify their booking due to the current coronavirus outbreak. These reservations will be treated like any standard booking, according to our policies and procedures. You will be in control of whether, when and how to refund coronavirus-related guest cancellations for reservations made on or after 6 April 2020, based on the policy you have in place, the type of booking chosen by your guest, legal and governmental stipulations and mandatory consumer law. 

As the coronavirus situation evolves constantly, we reserve the right to reinstate our contractual Force Majeure policy. We will continue to frequently update this article with any changes, and we encourage you to bookmark this page. 

I have access to my GDT, but cannot find the Force Majeure clause.

Depending on your location and the type of property you manage, you have a specific type of GDT applicable to you. As a result, the precise location of the Force Majeure clause may differ from case to case. Most partners can access the Force Majeure clause under sections 2.9 or 2.8. If you have a negotiated agreement with Booking.com, the Force Majeure clause may be listed under a different number.

Where can I find my General Delivery Terms?

GDTs can be retrieved from different locations, depending on whether you have an individual or group contract. 

Individual contracts

Digital contracts: if you have an individual agreement with Booking.com, you can access your GDT via the extranet.

  • Click on the ‘Account’ icon in the top-right corner of the extranet.
  • Select ‘Contracts’ and then request a copy of your contract and GDT. 

Your individual agreement will be sent via email as a PDF attachment within 2 business days. The person listed as the primary point of contact in the ‘Contacts’ section under ‘Account’ will receive this email. 

Analogue contracts: If you’re working under an individual agreement with Booking.com but haven’t got a digital version yet, you can request a copy of the GDT via the button on the extranet page. 

Multiple contracts

If you are a multiple property partner without an individual negotiated contract:

  • Login to the group extranet from your master account.
  • Click on the ‘Finance’ page.
  • Click on the ‘Request GDT’ button below the navigation bar.

You will receive your latest GDT via email immediately.

How does Force Majeure affect the Virtual Credit Card (VCC) process? Will there be additional changes to the process now that FM has ended?

To better protect the interests of both partners and guests, we changed the activation date of all outstanding and future virtual credit cards (VCC) to one day after check-in, with immediate effect on 19 March 2020.

 For reservations that are not subject to Force Majeure   For reservations that are subject to Force Majeure 
If guests honour the reservation and stay at your property, you can charge the VCC one day after check-in. Guests will be allowed to cancel for free. In that case you will not charge the VCC.
If guests cancel the reservation after the deadline or do not show up, you are also able to charge the VCC one day after the original check-in date.  For all VCCs with reservations made in the past, we will change the activation date to the day after check-in. 
 

At this time, we are not planning to review the VCC date change for reservations made on or after Force Majeure ended (6 April 2020). The activation date for all outstanding and future VCCs will remain at one day after check-in. More information about this change can be found in this article.


Section 2: Guidance on reservations and cancellations


What are the procedures for reservations made before and after 6 April 2020?

For active reservations made before 6 April 2020, regardless of future check-in date: For reservations made on or after 6 April 2020:
There is no change. Our Force Majeure procedures, implemented in view of government travel restrictions and based on our contract, still apply. The COVID-19 Force Majeure procedures that we implemented in view of government travel restrictions do not apply.
We anticipate that more governments around the world will implement binding regulations that restrict the movement of people. Our Force Majeure procedures will apply as normal to any reservations made before 6 April 2020 for any future check-in date where government travel restrictions make it impossible, illegal or prevent guests from travelling to or staying at the accommodation they have booked. Our standard procedures apply, including relating to Non-Refundable and Partially Refundable reservations. As such, you will be in control of whether, when and how to refund COVID-19-related guest cancellations for reservations made on or after 6 April 2020, based on the policy chosen by your guest, your individual, legal and governmental situation and mandatory consumer law. 
  We will introduce extensive new messaging across our website and app, both pre- and post-booking, to make customers even more aware of the risk they are taking in booking Non-Refundable or Partially Refundable reservations on or after 6 April 2020.

 

Am I allowed to cancel a reservation without the guest's consent?

All active reservations that have been confirmed by the property need to be honoured, as per our General Delivery Terms. If you do not want to accommodate guests, we will follow our standard relocation procedure.

Our Force Majeure policy is designed to support guest cancellations if desired or required. It is not designed to enforce cancellations requested by a property.

Can guests change their reservation dates during Force Majeure instead of moving automatically to cancellations?

Yes. To support partners, we developed a feature that allows guests to cancel their reservations or change their stay dates for non-refundable reservations if Force Majeure conditions apply to their booking.

Can you explain how the cancellation and refunding process works?

For reservations made on or after 6 April 2020:

For all new reservations made as of 6 April 2020, we will no longer apply Force Majeure conditions for guests seeking to cancel or modify their booking due to the current coronavirus outbreak. These reservations will be treated like any standard booking, according to our normal policies and procedures. You remain responsible for making sure your availability on our platform is up to date, including when government restrictions require your property to be closed. Should a guest book a room that is not available, the guest must be given a full refund unless they agree to a different solution.

For active reservations made before 6 April 2020:

There is no change. Our Force Majeure procedures still apply to any reservations made before 6 April 2020 for any future check-in date where government travel restrictions prevent guests from travelling to or staying at the accommodation they have booked, making it make it impossible or illegal

Force Majeure

Outside of Force Majeure

No commission applies in this situation.

Regular cancellation and refund procedures apply.

Cancellations with fee

If the guest cancels a reservation with a fee, then the guest credit card must be marked as ‘invalid’ in the extranet to waive the commission. This action should be taken within the same billing period. 

If the invoice was already issued, the invalid credit card button will not be active in the system. In this case, you need to dispute it once received.

Cancellations with fee

If the guest cancels a non-refundable reservation, normal fees are charged.

 

 

Cancellations free of charge

If a guest asks to cancel a reservation free of charge (without a self-cancellation tool), there is no action needed. You can simply accept the guest request by going to the reservation in the extranet and selecting ‘Request to cancel reservation’. This will trigger a cancellation free of charge.

Cancellations free of charge

If a guest asks to cancel free of charge, accept the guest’s request by going to the reservation in the extranet and selecting ‘Request to cancel reservation’. This will trigger a cancellation free of charge.

 

Why do I need to refund non-refundable reservations?

So as to repay and maintain customer loyalty for our partners and for Booking.com, we help them with cancellations that are free of charge due to the nature of this unprecedented situation, where customers can't get to the property because of government-imposed travel restrictions.The Force Majeure policy, which is outlined in your GDT, has always been designed to provide free cancellations to guests when they are unable to travel or stay at the accommodation they booked.

Can I offer guests the option of taking a voucher instead of a refund? What if I offer a voucher but Booking.com has already cancelled the reservation?

You can now offer guests a voucher for reservations that are impacted by Forced Majeure. If your guests do not prefer a date change, you can, with their consent, provide them with a voucher for a future stay. This voucher can match the value of the cancellation fees or it can be for a higher amount, at your discretion. Please ensure your guests agree before processing any voucher or refund. If they prefer a refund, you must follow the refund procedure set in place by Force Majeure conditions.

If you have issued a voucher but we have already cancelled the reservation and refunded the guest, we will notify you and ask that you refund the VCC when applicable (for example, when using Payments by Booking.com). Alternatively, we will send an invoice to your extranet. 

Following official advice from the government, I have been forced to temporarily close my property. How can I be certain that my rooms will not appear as open on Booking.com?

In April, we temporarily disabled the ‘auto-replenishment on closed rooms’ feature, to help all of our partners comply with any developing regulatory guidelines. As of August, we will be turning this feature back on for all properties who previously had the feature enabled. 

Travel has now opened in most regions, and guests are now aware of the risks involved in making accommodation bookings. This feature helps you to sell more rooms, as you can offer maximum availability without having to go into the system to update it manually.

However, if your availability is still affected by Coronavirus regulations and you would prefer to opt-out of the feature, you can do so by following these steps: 

  1. Log into the extranet
  2. Click on the ‘Rates & Availability’ tab
  3. Go to the Settings symbol on the top-right corner of your Calendar
  4. Click on ‘Auto-Replenishment’
  5. Under ‘Calendar Settings’, click ’No’ to turn off the Auto-Replenishment feature  

 


Section 3: Ensuring safety and wellbeing


If a guest arrives at my property with symptoms consistent with coronavirus, do I then have the right to ask for a doctor's clearance certificate?

The question of what distinguishes a symptom of coronavirus compared to a normal cold is a difficult one to answer. Ordinarily, requesting medical details from guests would not be permitted by partners for data protection reasons. However, if it is likely that a guest has transferred from a country where Force Majeure has been instituted, you can ask guests about their itinerary prior to visiting your property.

Please note that guests are not legally compelled to provide medical certification and our policies do not currently allow for the refusal of reservations from guests who have not travelled to the countries where Force Majeure has been instituted. Any cancellations from the property side must be made with the co-operation and consent of the guest.

How are you informing partners about evolving Force Majeure conditions?

We would like to update you via normal channels (email, extranet, Pulse, etc.) each time a new Force Majeure condition has become effective, but the magnitude and frequency of updates no longer make this possible. We have therefore decided to create one trustworthy and reliable source for you in the information article available on Partner Help. This article is where you can find our latest updates and guidance around the current crisis. We encourage you to bookmark and check this page on a daily basis as it is updated very frequently.

I cannot reach your Customer Service department via phone, live chat or email. What do I do?

Due to the global nature of this situation, our Customer Service department is working 24/7 to respond to requests from both partners and guests alike. Currently, over 10,000 of our colleagues from all over the world are answering customer services requests.

If we are unreachable, it is likely that the volume of requests was too great when you initially tried to reach out. In difficult times like these, we respectfully apologise and ask for your patience. Please continue trying to reach us through our communication channels. Please also know that we are working on technical solutions to enable self-service help as much as possible. We hope this continually updated FAQ will also help our partners in need, and we encourage you to check back for the latest updates.

What is Booking.com doing to help with my financial issues?

As a large company with many partners to serve, we take our social responsibility very seriously. In normal circumstances, our teams proactively reach out to partners who are in financially challenging situations to discuss a tailored approach. But these are unprecedented times. We need to ensure we can keep on operating our business in the best possible way, so we can bring future demand and support to you as soon as you are ready to resume and grow your business again. With more than 2.5 million properties worldwide on our website, it can be difficult to offer individual financial relief. That said, our financial department is gathering information on initiatives being developed by governments to reduce or delay tax payments. We will proactively inform you about any financial relief program that is applicable to your situation.

In addition, as countries begin to show signs of recovery, we will publish a Recovery Preparation Toolkit to help you get back to business and back to growth as soon as possible.

What is Booking.com doing to help partners recover?

Beyond the updates outlined above, we continue to work on new ways to support you:

  • In these uncertain times, customers are looking for flexibility. For the time being, we will therefore be making it as easy as possible for customers to find flexible options. To help your property benefit, we recommend putting flexible policies in place. To support this, we are building new functionality that will enable you to easily switch policies to fully flexible.
  • We are working on a campaign to incentivise customers to rebook properties they cancelled due to coronavirus, once they are able to travel again (Non-Refundable and Partially Refundable bookings only).
  • Very soon, we will share details of new tooling that enables you to change the dates of many reservations yourself, when requested by the customer. You will no longer need to call our Customer Service teams.
  • We continue to work on our plan to stimulate travellers to start booking once this crisis is behind us and it becomes safe to travel again. 
  • We continue to work on our Recovery Preparation Toolkit, which we will publish to help you get back to business and back to growth as soon as possible, once countries begin to show signs of recovery.

How can I find out more about tax relief measures happening in my country?

Governments around the world are implementing emergency tax relief measures to help businesses deal with the impact of Coronavirus. Whether you run a large hotel or rent out a single bedroom, it can pay to know your options.

The EY Tax COVID-19 Response Tracker gathers tax-relief information from 120+ countries. Download the PDF overview to learn what type of relief measures are happening right now in your country:

  • Personal, VAT and business tax freezes and exemptions
  • Economic measures being enacted to help businesses recover
  • Links to official government resources and programs 
  • Contact information to help you apply for emergency aid

For more tax-related information and questions to ask your financial adviser, read our expanded article on tax relief opportunities.

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