London: HomeAway, a Vrbo brand and part of Expedia Group, has announced more ways to help families find holiday homes, so that they can find accommodation that meets their standards for cleanliness and flexible cancellations when travel picks up again.
Vrbo president Jeff Hurst said: “HomeAway has been connecting families with private, holiday homes for 25 years, and it is obvious that Covid-19 has added to what people need as they plan their next trip – having the flexibility to change or cancel plans and knowing how a space has been cleaned are essential to feeling comfortable enough to travel again.
“We’re adding the tools quickly to meet those additional requirements families now have when they are choosing a place to stay, as well as the systems our homeowners and property managers need to clearly communicate their policies and standards with future guests. Transparency between holidaymakers and homeowners about expectations and protocols is more important than ever,” he added.
Cleanliness guidelines and search filters
HomeAway says it is working with local governments, the travel industry and medical experts to ensure homeowners, property managers and holidaymakers are receiving aligned, clear cleanliness recommendations. As part of Expedia Group, HomeAway is also involved on the topic with UNWTO and WTTC, as well as with eu travel tech [formerly The European Technology and Travel Services Association – ETTSA] and the European Holiday Homes Association [EHHA].
The company’s new guidelines combine information from local government resources, the World Health Organisation and Cristal International Standards [part of the international certification and training company, Intertek Group] amongst others. Homeowners and property managers will have access to information for disinfecting high-touch surfaces, building in time between bookings to avoid back-to-back stays and stocking antibacterial hand-washes, cleaners and hand sanitisers for guests.
HomeAway is adding enhanced safety steps that partners are taking to property descriptions so holidaymakers can choose places to book that meet their expectations.
Homeowners and property managers will be able to report if the property is being cleaned with disinfectant, if guests can check in and out without any person-to-person contact, and whether the property is unavailable for 24 hours between guests. Once property owners have supplied that information, HomeAway will add it to the property descriptions that holidaymakers see on the site and app.
In another addition to HomeAway, families will be able to use search filters to see holiday rentals with the highest cleanliness reviews from other holidaymakers. Former guests have already provided cleanliness reviews on 900,000 HomeAway properties.
Even before COVID-19, the company said that cleanliness was a top expectation for holidaymakers when renting a holiday home, and they say their most valuable source of information is people who have already stayed in the holiday home, cottage or apartment.
Flexible cancellation search filter
When looking for properties with flexible cancellation policies, families can use HomeAway search filters to find holiday homes that provide a full refund when cancelling by a specific date. The company will also highlight listings with the most relaxed cancellation policies, making it easier for families to find holiday homes that offer free cancellation closer to their check-in date.
Hurst said: “HomeAway’s homeowners and property managers told us that in response to Covid-19, adopting more flexible cancellation policies is the number one thing they are considering doing in the near future, so we’re supporting that by making the changes easy for them and highlighting the nearly a million properties that already have flexible cancellation policies and those that are adopting them,” said Hurst.
Last month, HomeAway UK temporarily changed its logo to “StayHome” for now, sending out a message to UK holidaymakers and holiday homeowners to follow the government’s advice to avoid all non-essential travel and to simply stay at home.