Even the best-organized among us are booking last minute summer vacation this year, careful about how the coronavirus affects local travel.
“We’ve definitely seen a delay in bookings, especially where people cross borders,” said Dean Long, CEO of the Accommodation Association.
Adding this trip to your cart will help you feel more secure understanding the accommodation cancellation policy.
We spoke to Mr. Long and Jodi Bird, a travel expert with consumer group Choice, to find out what we need to know to make our vacation COVID safe.
Types of cancellation policy
When you book accommodation, you are entering into a contract with the provider of your choice that includes terms and conditions relating to deposits, booking fees and cancellations.
There isn’t any type of cancellation policy a provider offers, but there are Australian consumer laws that they must comply with, Long says.
Some examples of cancellation policies are:
- 100 percent refundable;
- Free cancellation or partial refund up to a specified date;
- Flexible arrangements. For example, change your booking details.
- Non refundable.
“Airbnb, for example, has cancellations that are categorized as strict, medium, and flexible, and you can filter your search accordingly,” says Bird.
Cancellation fees are considered excessive if they exceed what your cancellation reasonably cost the company.
While some vendors may have tweaked their policies earlier this year to be coronavirus-specific, most have reverted to general policies, according to Bird.
Vacation during the coronavirus
Going on vacation during the coronavirus pandemic has never been more complicated. The rapidly changing restrictions are a headache for travelers.
How to make your trip COVID-safe
Read the provider’s terms and conditions before booking accommodation.
“The terms that apply at the time of booking apply to you,” says Bird.
For online bookings, the terms and conditions should be readily available and identifiable.
If you are not sure, contact the provider directly, recommends Mr. Bird.
“Email or call the provider and ask what they will do if the borders suddenly close [for example]. “
Make sure you get their response in writing as that is part of the terms, says Mr Bird.
Mr. Long says he should also review the health advice for the area you plan to visit and where you will be staying when you return.
“Jump on the COVID portal and see if you can visit it without having to quarantine it,” he says.
You can consider taking out travel insurance at the same time as booking your accommodation as some policies cover cancellations.
Who to call when you have a problem
According to Mr. Bird, if there are disputes about cancellation, it is always best to resolve them with the provider first.
“You can refer online to the appropriate ACCC or Choice advice with the appropriate laws,” he says.
“If the terms and conditions changed after booking, it may be an unfair contract.”
If they don’t match, you can refer the complaint to your state consumer authority.
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