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Vrbo reversed its longstanding guest-refund policy for the wildfires in Maui – for the first time, guests would be entitled to full refunds.

Vrbo reversed its longstanding guest-refund policy for the wildfires in Maui – for the first time, guests would be entitled to full refunds. But that won’t be the case with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hilary, which this week ripped through Baja California, Mexico, and then turned to Southern California and elsewhere in the U.S. Southwest.

A Vrbo spokesperson told the Skift STR Report Monday that “there is no change to the Vrbo policy for Southern California right now.”

That means that guest refunds tied to Hilary’s disruptions will be dictated by each host’s stated policy. For example, a booking search Monday for a stay starting Tuesday night at a home with a pool in Palm Springs, California, stated that guests would be ineligible for refunds because of their chosen dates. On the other hand, a potential booking under consideration Monday at the same property for September 18-24 allows for a 50% refund — excluding the service fee — for cancellations made by September 4, and no refund after that date. So, according to the Vrbo endorsed host’s policy, if a hurricane or earthquake takes place on September 5 or thereafter, then no refund would be forthcoming.

The Vrbo spokesperson declined to say why the Maui wildfires and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hilary refund policies are different. The death toll in the Maui wildfires was at least 114, and rising; published reports said 850 people were still missing.

Refund policies are a hot-button issue. During the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Airbnb mandated guest refunds under its extenuating circumstances policy, and that triggered a stiff backlash from hosts, many of whom missed out on expected payments, and felt abandoned. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky apologized, and implemented a $260 million relief package for hosts. At that time, Vrbo did not follow Airbnb’s lead, and stuck with its more host-friendly policy, enabling hosts to decide on whether to provide guest refunds based on their properties’ refund policies.

That policy was in place until the Maui wildfires, and reversed, albeit just for Maui to date.

Vrbo Reverses Long-Standing Guest Refund Policy in Maui

Selina’s Unlock Blues

Many investors stay attuned to companies’ share “unlock” dates, the period after an IPO when employees are free to start trading their stock options. For example, on October 31, 2012, Facebook’s (now Meta’s) share price tumbled 4% when its employees got the green light to cash in their shares. Likewise, on the day following the Uber unlock date, which was November 5, 2019, its shares opened at what was then a record low of $25.58.

It was apparently Selina’s turn on Friday, the company confirmed to Skift’s Sean O’Neill. Selina, which offers hotel beds, hostel rooms with bunk beds, and co-working spaces, saw its share price plummet 41% on Friday, but it bounced back around 9.3% Monday afternoon to $0.47 per share.

Nasdaq hasn’t served Selina with a notice of a potential delisting yet; its share price would have to dip below $1 for 30 trading days in a row — but don’t bet against that happening.’s Lingering Host Payment Problems

We reported last week about’s tardy payments to hosts in Hungary, a several-week delay that the company tied to a payment systems upgrade. But the problem was certainly more widespread than that, and it was ongoing as of a few days ago. Booking told the Financial Times for a story published Sunday that UK hosts had also not received payments, and the catchup payments were almost complete.’s internal payment system gives it more control over guest bookings, and helps in numerous countries where guests and hosts don’t have credit cards or services to process them.

Fast-Growing Rentals in India for

Meanwhile, said its alternative accommodations business in India is growing faster than hotels. It categorizes these properties into 14 types, including homes, apartments, villas, tree houses, and camps.

Verifying listings to ensure they aren’t fake and live up to their billing has been an issue for years for some of the big platforms. Booking said it verifies listings in India through video checks and audits.

You can listen to Skift Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia interview a top exec in the region about short-term rentals and other topics in a recent episode of the Skift India Travel Podcast. Highlights Its Short-Term Rental Stategy in India

Airbnb and Have Lots of Cash for Brainy Days

At the end of June, Booking Holdings had $5.5 billion in free cash flow and Airbnb had $2.83 billion that they generated over the previous 12 months. They can use this bonanza for share repurchases, or to deftly — or clumsily, that’s possible too — craft new strategies that might include product development or acquisitions. It’s been a few years since either made a splashy acquisition or investment in the short-term rental space.

Airbnb actually converted free cash flow from revenue more efficiently than Booking Holdings, 31% versus 28%. To put that into perspective, asset heavy Delta Air Lines had a comparable free cash flow conversion mark of 2%.

Bob W Expands in Helsinki

Bob W, which offers apartment stays of various durations in several European cities, added its fifth property in Helsinki, the Hotel Rivoli Jardin. Riffing off Helsinki’s “apartment building sauna culture,” the company said the property has a communal sauna, as well as 55 rooms and suites, all with kitchenettes. 
Bob W leases and operates the Hotel Rivoli Jardin. Bob W offers 32 properties in nine European countries. 

Dennis Schaal wrote this issue of the Short-term Rental Report. Send him tips, comments and feedback at [email protected]

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Tags: hawaii, sstrr, vrbo

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