Will hotels refund your money due to the coronavirus?

The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit some industries harder than others. One industry, in particular, that's been hit hard is the travel and tourism industry, with people all over the world postponing their vacations and canceling hotel stays. Understandably, some of these people are asking for refunds. But will hotels refund your money due to the coronavirus?

According to Conde Nast Traveller, in most cases, it comes down to the hotel's cancellation policy. In good news, some are being more flexible than usual, waiving cancellation or rebooking fees, based on factors like government restrictions and time of booking. Four Seasons, for example, is waiving cancellation fees while Hilton and Marriott are offering location-specific refunds where they usually would not. Unfortunately, this not the case for all hotels. 

"Companies that tighten refund policies are only focusing on the short-term hits," Marcia Flicker, an associate professor of marketing at the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University told USA Today. "Travel brands that have loosened or eliminated refund restrictions are earning consumer trust and building positive relationships with their customers. They are telling current and future customers that the people who use their services matter more than immediate profits."

It's important to read the terms and condition you originally agreed to

Ultimately, it's the third-party booking sites and short-term rental companies where refunds are more up in the air and things seem to be changing daily. If this is the case for you, The Mercury News suggests reaching out to the company directly for help. One woman, for example, booked through Trip.com and told The Mercury News, "They were quick to acknowledge the coronavirus and processed two refund cancellations I made in February with no questions asked." She continued, "I felt pretty lucky having booked it through Trip.com. Other people in similar situations were not able to get refunds for their tickets."

It's also a good idea to have a good read of the terms and conditions you originally agreed to. If you have no luck and have made repeated attempts, The Mercury News suggests contacting the hotel via social media, politely requesting a refund in a public forum.