How to Handle Booking Cancellations & Refunds During COVID-19

We, just like everybody else, are watching this surreal situation unfold as COVID-19 continues to make its impact across the globe. With travel restrictions, closed borders, quarantines, and social distancing recommendations becoming a part of our everyday lives, we know that our operators are navigating uncharted waters.

What can you do during these trying times?

It can be unimaginably frustrating to have forces that you cannot control, causing such a negative impact on the business that you have worked so hard to build. We are hoping to provide steps you can take to manage unusually high levels of cancellations and low levels of bookings.

Communicate proactively

You have probably seen most brands you have interacted with (as a consumer) show up in your inbox over the past couple of weeks. It is more important than ever, in this time of flux, to keep communication with your guests open and honest. 

Are you keeping your tours open?

If you are in an area that hasn’t had calls to stay home, and you are planning on operating your tours, make sure to communicate what sanitation standards you’ll be adopting. We know that you have thought about how you will ensure guest safety — it’s time to let them know about those practices so that you can put their minds at ease.

Are you shutting down unexpectedly?

If you are shutting down your tours, activities or accommodations for the time being, make sure you inform presently affected guests, as well as future guests. Ensuring those who have booked in the coming months that you will be open again is essential for creating a sense of stability in these uncertain times.

Here’s how to do item event closures in Checkfront.

Be honest about how your guests can support you

Taking the time to let your guests know the various ways they can support your business will make a huge difference. Nobody wants to see any business they support suffer, so now is the time to:

  • Encourage them to book future tours
  • Remind them they can purchase gift certificates that can be used anytime
  • Ask them to reschedule their bookings rather than cancel and refund

We will all get through this by being kind to one another, and many consumers are eager to support with kindness where they can.

Here is how to send out mass communications using Checkfront.

Update/revise your cancellation policy

You’ll also want to review your existing cancellation policies and see if there’s an opportunity to apply more flexible rules retroactively.

For example, you could offer free cancellation up to 24hrs to encourage people to book their tours in the future. Because of the uncertainty of travel, travellers who have trips planned in the fall and onwards might be too afraid to book experiences too far in advance in fear that they may not be able to travel. (Note, we see over 20% of consumers booking travel experiences more than two weeks in advance of their trip). 

Offering this kind of flexibility can give them comfort that if they plan now, they won’t be in a tough spot should they need to cancel in the future. However, you must ensure that your business can support this flexibility and understand that guests may take advantage of this policy. 

You may also consider adding flexibility to your past cancellation policies retroactively. So, if you previously had a non-refundable policy, it may be time to consider issuing refunds in the form of gift certificates to encourage guests to have their experiences later in the future. Doing this ensures that you have the opportunity to up-sell them once they do join you on their tour or activity.

Here’s how to set up your cancellation policy in Checkfront and how to offer refunds in the form of gift certificates.

Issue Gift Certificates

Speaking of gift certificates…this is a great way to keep revenue incoming while being unable to operate your tours or activities. So, make sure that you offer the ability to purchase gift certificates through your website. 

Here’s how to set up gift certificates in Checkfront.

We are in this together

As our team moves remotely to support our local community, we want you to know that you will still get the same service and support you have come to expect from us. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is any way we can help you through these uncertain times ahead. You can contact our Support team by emailing

We remain a team so passionate about travel experiences and will continue to come together as a community to support each other as this unfolds. 

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