Understanding Force Majeure

Updated 7 months ago | 5 min read time

Force Majeure (FM), which is sometimes referred to as Forced Circumstances, is a contractual clause that is invoked during certain emergency situations where it’s impossible for a party to fulfil their contractual obligations due to events beyond their control.

What’s in this article

The Booking.com Force Majeure policy

The Booking.com Force Majeure policy is a clause in our General Delivery Terms (GDTs). It covers emergency situations where it is/was impossible or illegal for guests to travel to or stay at properties they’ve booked – for example, during a natural disaster or a pandemic such as COVID-19. FM only extends to situations where the guest cancels the booking, not where you cancel the booking. In some cases we may cancel the booking on a guest’s behalf.

The GDTs that are applicable to you depend on the type of property you manage and where it’s located. This also changes where the Force Majeure clause is located in your contract. Most partners will see it under sections 2.8 or 2.9. If you have a negotiated agreement with us, the FM clause may be listed in a different section. 

How Force Majeure impacts your guests

During emergency situations, we proactively evaluate reservations on an individual basis and identify those that are eligible for FM conditions. We then contact you to let you know if your guests need to change their reservations as a result.

In cases where guests can’t complete their stay and which meet the FM conditions, the guests can request that you do one of the following:

  • Find new dates for a future booking on our platform (different rates may apply – the difference is paid by the guest)
  • Issue a voucher for a future stay, with the same value as the original price paid by the guest (or a higher amount at your discretion)
  • Issue a full refund of any prepayment or deposit, including fees for no-shows, booking changes, or cancellations

Under FM conditions, guests can also change stay dates for a non-refundable booking themselves. You can learn more about the process in this article. You don’t need to do anything to facilitate this, but to make it easier for your guests we recommend you have up-to-date availability for at least the next 12 months.

Refunding bookings cancelled due to FM

You can follow these guidelines when refunding bookings cancelled by a guest:

  • Cancellations with a fee
    If the guest cancels a booking with a fee, you’ll need to mark the guest’s credit card as invalid in the extranet in order to waive the commission fee. This can only be done before invoices are generated. Read this article to find out how to mark a credit card as invalid.

    If you were already issued an invoice for the booking, the Mark credit card as invalid button won’t appear. In this case, you’ll need to dispute our invoice once you receive it. Read this article to learn more about dispute requests.
  • Free-of-charge cancellations
    If a guest requests you to cancel a booking free of charge (without using the self-cancellation tool), you can accept the request by going to the booking in the extranet and clicking Request to cancel booking. This will trigger a free-of-charge cancellation.

Offering guests relocation support

If relocating your guests is possible during a FM situation – for example, if there are other properties in the area that are still able to receive guests – we recommend offering your guests help in finding alternative accommodation. If you need assistance from us during this process, you can contact Customer Support. They will also evaluate whether relocation costs can be waived.

Contacting us for support

You can contact us for more information on specific areas and dates to which FM conditions may apply. Use the dedicated phone number in the extranet or send us a message via the extranet inbox. Read this article for more guidance on contacting us.

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