Coronavirus FAQs

Updated 1 month ago

We know the coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on you, your loved ones, and your business. That’s why we've done our best to answer some of the most important questions from partners like yourself. We’ll 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 well-being


Section 1: Force Majeure and its implications


What is the definition of Force Majeure?

Any of the following events affecting multiple guests and 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 (...), limits to transportation facilities, closures of airports, or any other exceptional and catastrophic event, circumstance, or emergency making it impossible, illegal, or prevents guests from traveling to or staying at an 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 fees, costs, expenses, or other amounts (including the (non-refundable) rate, or the no-show, (change of) reservation, or cancellation fees) for:

(i) any cancellations of or changes to the reservation made by the Guests, or

(ii) part of the reservation that wasn’t 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 the cancellation, no-show, or change to the reservation (and upon request provide Booking.com with a copy of such evidence). In order for Booking.com to register any cancellations, no-shows, or amendments to reservations 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 won’t charge commission in the event of a registered no-show or cancellation, or for the part of the booking which wasn’t consumed due to a Force Majeure Event.

When does Booking.com declare Force Majeure?

We know the impact is very severe for our partners. With the coronavirus bringing the world to a standstill, 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 traveling. We’ve only declared Force Majeure where and when the legal situation is clear.

What is the decision to declare Force Majeure based on?

We developed criteria based on info and assessments of health risks by both international agencies and governments. We consider the measures they suggest or those they’ve already implemented.

Why are you declaring Force Majeure in cases where credit card or insurance companies are likely to cover a guest's costs?

In our Force Majeure clause, we’ve always taken the approach of providing refunds to all customers. We don’t intend to take a position on other parties' roles during this global health emergency and can’t 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, or when a customer may not physically be able to reach the property, we support them by offering free cancellation or modifying the dates of their stay, when possible. In light of these government-imposed restrictions, if a hotel refunds a customer what they already paid, Booking.com will of course waive 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 April 6, 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 April 6, 2020, based on the policy you have in place, the type of booking chosen by your guest, legal and governmental stipulations, as well as mandatory consumer law. 

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

I have access to my GDT, but can’t 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 on the Extranet.

  • Click the “Account” icon in the top-right corner of the Extranet.
  • Select “Contracts,” then request a copy of your contract and GDT. 

We’ll email the individual agreement 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. 

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

Multiple contracts

If you’re a multiple-property partner without an individual negotiated contract:

  • Log in to the group Extranet from your master account.
  • Go to the “Finance” page.
  • Click the “Request GDT” button below the navigation bar.

You’ll receive your latest GDT by 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, effective immediately as of March 19, 2020.

 For reservations that aren’t subject to Force Majeure   For reservations that are subject to Force Majeure 
If guests honor 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 won’t charge the VCC.
If guests cancel the reservation after the deadline or no-show, you can charge the VCC one day after the original check-in date.  For all VCCs with reservations made in the past, we’ll change the activation date to the day after check-in. 
 

At this time, we aren’t planning to review the VCC date change for reservations made on or after Force Majeure ended (April 6, 2020). The activation date for all outstanding and future VCCs will remain at one day after check-in. Find more info on this change in this article.


Section 2: Guidance on reservations and cancellations


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

For active reservations made before April 6, 2020, regardless of future check-in date: For reservations made on or after April 6, 2020:
There is no change. Our Force Majeure procedures—implemented due to government travel restrictions and based on our contract—still apply. The COVID-19 Force Majeure procedures that we implemented due to 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 April 6, 2020 for any future check-in date where government travel restrictions make it impossible, illegal, or prevent guests from traveling to or staying at the accommodation they booked. Our standard procedures apply, including those relevant 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 April 6, 2020, based on the policy chosen by your guest, your individual, legal and governmental situation, as well as mandatory consumer law. 
  We’ll introduce extensive new messaging across our site and app—both pre- and post-booking—to make customers even more aware of the risk they’re taking by booking Non-Refundable or Partially Refundable reservations on or after April 6, 2020.

 

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

All active reservations that have been confirmed by the property need to be honored, in accordance with our General Delivery Terms. If you don’t want to accommodate guests, we’ll follow our standard relocation procedure.

Our Force Majeure policy is designed to support guest cancellations if desired or required. It isn’t designed to enforce cancellations requested by properties.

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 April 6, 2020:

For all new reservations made as of April 6, 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 close. If a guest books 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 April 6, 2020:

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

Force Majeure

Outside of Force Majeure

No commission applies in this situation.

Regular cancellation and refund procedures apply.

Cancellations with a fee

If the guest cancels a reservation with a fee, then the guest credit card must be marked as “invalid” on 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 won’t be active in the system. In this case, you need to dispute it once received.

Cancellations with a fee

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

 

 

Free cancellations

If a guest asks to cancel a reservation free of charge (without using the self-cancellation tool), no action is needed. You can just accept the guest request by going to the reservation on the Extranet and selecting “Request to cancel reservation.” This will trigger a free cancellation.

Free cancellations

If a guest asks to cancel for free, accept the guest’s request by going to the reservation on the Extranet and selecting “Request to cancel reservation.” This will trigger a free cancellation.

 

Why do I need to refund non-refundable reservations?

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’re unable to travel or stay at the accommodation they booked.

Can I offer guests the option to take a voucher instead of a refund? What if I offer a voucher but Booking.com already canceled the reservation?

You can now offer guests a voucher for reservations impacted by Forced Majeure. If your guests don’t want a date change, you can—with their consent—provide them a voucher for a future stay. This voucher can match the value of the cancellation fees or be for a higher amount, at your discretion. Make sure your guests agree before processing any vouchers or refunds. If they prefer a refund, follow the refund procedure set in place by Force Majeure conditions.

If you issue a voucher, but we already canceled the reservation and refunded the guest, we’ll notify you and ask you to refund the VCC when applicable (e.g. when using Payments by Booking.com). Alternatively, we’ll send you an invoice on the Extranet. 

Following official advice from the government, I had to close my property temporarily. How can I be sure that my rooms won’t appear as open on Booking.com?

In April, we temporarily disabled the auto-replenishment on closed rooms feature to help all our partners comply with any developing regulatory guidelines. As of August, we’ll 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 aware of the risks involved in making accommodation bookings. This feature helps you to sell more rooms because 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’d prefer to opt out of the feature, you can do so by following these steps: 

  1. Log in to the Extranet.
  2. Click the “Rates & Availability” tab
  3. Go to the Settings symbol in the top-right corner of your Calendar
  4. Click “Auto-Replenishment”
  5. Under “Calendar Settings,” click “No” to turn off the Auto-Replenishment feature  

 


Section 3: Ensuring safety and well-being


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

The question of what distinguishes coronavirus symptoms from a normal cold is difficult to answer. Normally, requesting medical info from guests wouldn’t be permitted for data protection reasons. However, if it’s likely that a guest has traveled from a country where Force Majeure has been instituted, you can ask about their itinerary prior to arrival at your property.

Guests aren’t legally obliged to provide medical certification, and our policies don’t allow the refusal of reservations from guests who haven’t traveled to countries where Force Majeure has been instituted. Any cancellations by the property must be made with the cooperation and consent of guests.

How are you informing partners about evolving Force Majeure conditions?

We’d like to update you via normal channels (e.g. email, Extranet, Pulse, etc.) each time a new Force Majeure condition goes into effect, but the magnitude and frequency of these updates make this no longer possible. Therefore, we’ve decided to create one trustworthy and reliable source for you in a Partner Help Center article. This article is where you’ll find all our latest updates and guidance on the current crisis. We encourage you to bookmark and check this page on a daily basis, since it’s updated very frequently.

I can’t reach your Customer Service department via phone, live chat, or email. What should 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 around the world are answering customer service requests.

If we are unreachable, it’s likely that the volume of requests was too great when you initially tried to reach out. In difficult times like these, we respectfully apologize and ask for your patience. Please continue trying to reach us through our communication channels. We’re 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. 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 tailored approaches. However, these are unprecedented times. We need to make sure we can keep operating our business in the best way possible, so we can bring future demand and support to you as soon as you’re ready to resume and grow your business again. With more than 2.5 million properties worldwide on our site, it can be difficult to offer individual financial relief. That said, our financial department is gathering info on initiatives being developed by governments to reduce or delay tax payments. We’ll proactively inform you about any financial relief program that’s 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 growth as soon as possible.

What is Booking.com doing to help partners recover?

Beyond the updates outlined above, we’ll continue working on new ways to support you:

  • In these uncertain times, customers are looking for flexibility. For the time being, we’ll 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’re building new features that will enable you to easily switch policies to fully flexible.
  • We’re working on a campaign to incentivize customers to rebook properties they canceled due to the coronavirus once they’re able to travel again (Non-Refundable and Partially Refundable bookings only).
  • We'll soon share details about new tooling that will enable you to change the dates of many reservations yourself when requested by the customer. You'll no longer need to call our Customer Service teams.
  • We're continuing to work on our plan to motivate travelers to start booking once this crisis is behind us and it’s safe to travel again. 
  • We're working on our Recovery Preparation Toolkit, which we'll publish to help you get back to business and 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 the 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 info 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 info to help you apply for emergency aid

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

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