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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 31/03/2020

During this time of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been working closely with the industry and our partners.

As part of this, we’ve been working with Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) to support postponement, rather than cancellation, policies for bookings to Scotland. Working with as many OTA’s as possible, we wanted to provide you with a clear update on the support and flexibility currently available.

Airbnb

On Monday 30 March, Airbnb announced several key initiatives and policies to help accommodation hosts impacted by COVID-19-related cancellations. In summary, it announced:

  • Extenuating Circumstances coverage to all reservations booked on or before 14 March for stays with check-ins through 31 May.
  • $250 million investment to mitigate the impact on accommodation hosts of cancellations under the extenuating circumstances policy.
  • $10 million fund for eligible Superhosts and Experience hosts who are struggling financially. They can apply for up to $5,000 in grants that don’t need to be repaid.

 In addition, Airbnb has announced:

  • Temporary changes to policies as part of the COVID-19 response are now also applicable to Airbnb Experiences as well as Airbnb accommodation stays.
  • All Airbnb Experiences will be paused until 30 April and fees will be waived for two months once the platform goes live again. 

Extenuating Circumstances 

For a reservation to be eligible under the extenuating circumstances policy, it must have been for accommodation or experience and booked on or before 14 March with a check-in between 14 March and 31 May 2020. If a reservation is covered:

  • Guests will be able to cancel for a full refund for COVID-19-related circumstances.
  • Airbnb will pay 25% of what you would’ve received for a cancellation based on your cancellation policy. For example, if you would normally receive $400 through your cancellation policy, you'll be paid 25% of that—or $100.
  • In early April, Airbnb will email further details to hosts receiving a payout. Future payments from the fund will be made on a monthly basis to hosts with qualifying cancellations.

Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact on their Superhost status.

Airbnb will either refund or issue travel credit that includes all service fees for covered cancellations. In order to cancel under the policy, you’ll be required to attest to the facts of and/or provide supporting documentation for your extenuating circumstance.

Read the full Extenuating Circumstances Policy from Airbnb.

$250 million investment

For eligible stays reservations cancelled under the Extenuating Circumstances Policy, Airbnb will pay hosts 25% of what they would’ve received for a cancellation based on their normal cancellation policy. 

Payments from this fund will be made on a monthly basis to hosts with qualifying cancellations. In early April, Airbnb will email further details to hosts receiving a payout.

Read the full statement announcing this support

The Superhost fund

If you’re an Airbnb Superhost, you’re eligible if you’ve hosted from your primary home for at least one year. Likewise, if you’re an Experience host, and have hosted on Airbnb for more than one year, you’re also eligible. An application and supporting documentation will be required. At least 2,000 eligible hosts may receive a grant. Each grant will be for a maximum of $5,000 and do not have to be repaid.

Read the full announcement on the Superhost relief fund

Refunds and host support

Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date between 14 March 2020 and 31 May 2020, are covered by the policy and may be cancelled before check-in. All Airbnb Experiences will now be paused until 30 April 2020 and fees will be waived for two months when the platform goes live again.

 

Product changes for hosts and guests

Due to concerns around COVID-19, the UK Government has issued temporary restrictions on hosting. Updated guidelines from April 2020 highlight the following: 
 

  • All spare room and shared room listings will be blocked for new bookings, in adherence to the Government's social distancing guidelines.
  • For all remaining listings, guests will have to request a booking (rather than doing so instantly) so hosts can verify the guest meets an exception in the applicable regulations before accepting bookings.
  • Airbnb continue to review measures in line with Government guidance.

Booking.com

Booking.com has announced the following temporary changes to help businesses manage date modifications from visitors:

  • There is now the option for businesses to process date modification for guests on upcoming stays, without a requirement to contact the Booking.com customer support team. When a date change has been made, on request of your guests, they’ll then receive a confirmation email detailing these changes. 
  • Policy details for all modified reservations will remain the same. This means that when a reservation is pushed to the future, it may become refundable again and the guest may have the ability to cancel completely.

Read the full announcement for these temporary changes.

Booking.com is also providing daily coronavirus updates, including updates on Forced Circumstances and other important partner information. Take a look at Booking.com's coronavirus page.

Expedia

Expedia Group has introduced a force majeure flex policy for its travel partners. This applies to all bookings worldwide with eligible stay dates prior to 30 April 2020. This  policy includes:

  •  Automatic refunds to visitors who get in touch requesting to cancel existing bookings within the eligible dates. For these cancellations, Expedia is waiving cancellation fees and refunding any pre-payments.
  • Updating all rate plans for future bookings with eligible stay dates to have a free cancellation prior to 24 hours before the check-in date. This allows visitors to cancel now or delay their decision until closer to their stay at your property, should the situation improve.

  • The ability for you to now initiate the cancellation on behalf of a visitor within Partner Central.

Read the full force majeure flex policy from Expedia.

Further support and information

Keep up to date with the latest business advice and resources by visiting our dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) advice section.