How Eric combatted Covid-19 cancellations with flexible cancellation policies to drive bookings.
Four years in business
In March 2020, Eric Brown bought a historic home in Fredericksburg, the burgeoning wine region of central Texas. The newly remodelled house was already a popular holiday rental property — only a two-minute walk from the bustling downtown shopping district and close to the region’s many award-winning wineries.
Despite the property’s history of strong bookings, COVID-19 changed everything as a wave of cancellations hit shortly after he purchased the house.
As he watched his bookings run dry, Eric first tried lowering rates to attract guests. But even aggressive pricing wasn’t enough to get travellers to book. After speaking with his Partner Success Manager, he decided to change his strict 60-day cancellation policies, understanding that flexibility was a necessity for travellers considering booking a stay at that time.
‘I do think people are more comfortable booking with a flexible cancellation policy. They have a little more peace of mind, and as a result, they’re generally happier’.
Eric Brown, Owner
At the end of April, Eric shifted to a two-week cancellation policy and featured that policy in the headline of his property listing.
His strategy was to attract more bookings by ensuring that his home appeared in searches for properties with more flexible cancellation policies.
And it worked! After he changed the cancellation policy, page views for his property went up by several thousand, and he saw his volume climb from a single booking request to more than 30 in just a few weeks.
In addition, Eric found that most travellers who booked under the new policy weren’t waiting until that 14-day period to cancel. They were cancelling as soon as they knew their plans were changing — sometimes three to four weeks beforehand.
That gave Eric time to open those dates back up and remarket the property.
Eric remains confident that holiday rentals will continue to recover ahead of larger hotels, particularly in drive-to destinations like Fredericksburg. Recent trend research backs this up, showing that travellers prefer to book an entire property where they’re away from other guests, can find destinations closer to home and are able to book closer to the time of travel.
For Eric, switching to a more relaxed cancellation policy resulted in more bookings. This momentum helped him get more positive reviews, and that has strengthened his property’s performance on our marketplace.
The new policies are working well, and Eric says he’d even consider a more flexible policy if offered. He knows his guests are increasingly looking for properties with policies that accommodate today’s uncertain travel plans
Learn more about how flexible cancellation policies can you help attract more bookings for your listing.