How Airbnb, hotels are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

Airbnb customers can cancel their reservations without penalty.

BOSTON, MA - 3/06/2020: The Marriott Long Wharf Boston (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION:  METRO TOPIC:stand alone photo
The Marriott Long Wharf Boston. –David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

The travel industry is responding to reduced bookings, increased anxieties, and extra precautions relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines and Amtrak have cut back services, many cruise lines have suspended sailings, and the hotel industry as well as Airbnb are detailing cancellation policies and enhanced cleaning procedures. Some hotels have completely shut down. 

Marriott Boston Long Wharf, where approximately 175 people were potentially exposed to the virus in late February, closed on Thursday. Marriott has stepped up cleaning procedures at the rest of its hotels and is allowing changes and cancellations without a charge for both existing and new reservations for up to 24 hours before arrival through April 30, the company said in a statement Friday.

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Marriott officials said its crews are paying special attention to elevator buttons, door handles, front desk counters, public bathrooms, room keys, and “high-touch items” in guest rooms. Marriott employees are also attending an “enhanced COVID-19 awareness training,” according to a release.

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge closed Friday until April 24. Encore Boston Harbor in Everett closed Sunday for two weeks. Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg also closed on Sunday, and plans to open again on April 2. 

“For all guests with reservations from the evening of March 15 through April 1, we will automatically cancel your reservation and provide a full refund,” Great Wolf Lodge wrote. “Please be patient with us, as with the number of reservations that need to be cancelled it may take seven to 10 days before we’re able to process all refunds.”

Four Seasons is waiving cancellation fees for all existing and new reservations until April 30. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is waiving cancellation fees for all existing and new bookings between March 9 and April 30. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is waiving fees for guests traveling to or from Greater China, South Korea, or Italy with direct bookings through March 31 and “guests prohibited from traveling to their booked hotel under applicable law.” All other properties will let guests rebook if the request is received at least 48 hours before arrival. 

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On Saturday, Airbnb updated its “extenuating circumstances policy,” which allows hosts and guests to cancel eligible reservations with no charge or penalty. 

“This policy applies to bookings of places to stay and Airbnb Experiences in every country and region around the world, with the exception of domestic travel in mainland China, which is scheduled to return to normal rules on April 1,” Airbnb wrote.

The policy applies to reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, with check-in dates between March 14 and April 14, according to Airbnb.

“It’s also important to note that Airbnb will not collect any fees or benefit in any way from any reservations cancelled under this policy,” Airbnb wrote. “We’re in this together.”


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