The COVID Response: Safety Updates to Airbnb, Booking.com & Expedia

by Emilya Galstyan

Before the global pandemic strike, both local and global traveling had long surpassed affordability for a larger population scale. Flexible prices and affordable alternatives for air ticket companies and the hospitality industry offered significantly cheaper ways to explore the world. 

Currently, the travel industry is one of the primary industries affected by COVID-19 consequences.

Would the traveling stop? No. But it will never be the same. 

The world won't stop, but instead will adapt to the new COVID-19 reality, so will the travel industry. People will start to travel again, however, paying far closer attention to the health & safety requirements. Consequently, travel industry players' responses have been quick to incorporate new health and safety features into their services, making travelers aware and inciting confidence that their trip can be safe and include pandemic precaution measures.

Travel industry focuses its attention on the main three directions to adapt a new COVID situation:

  • Lift travel restrictions, apply new health protocols.
  • Restore the confidence of travellers by suggesting safe and clean labels. 
  • Work on tourism recovery plans such as new destinations and general industry rethink. 

Popular travel apps like Booking.com, Airbnb, and Expedia have already made steps towards app improvements, releasing new updates on awareness of travel restrictions in different countries & safety measures. The COVID-19 button is the most visible part when navigating through these new app sections. 

The two common types of COVID-related information in the mentioned apps are cancelation policies and newly introduced cleanliness & safety measures. 

Booking.com added a new health & safety section for the suggested stay options. Customers now find information about cleanliness, disinfection, physical distancing, and food & drink safety under each property. Booking.com also introduced the new health & safety rating, which is calculated based on the customer reviews, travelers have the opportunity to book stays with minimum or no risks of COVID-19 infection. 

Booking.com extra health & safety measures

Expedia prepared a COVID-19 travel guide for the travelers, which include Health, Safety and Travel advisoriesTravel Safe, and other relevant sections. In addition to that, after mentioning the direction, flight, or property, hint information with possible travel restrictions and policies appears.  

Expedia COVID-19 Travel Guide

Airbnb cooperates with both hosts and travelers to ensure the platform offers safe stays corresponding to pandemic rules and policies. Special information is available separately for hosts and travelers.   As a host, you may check Airbnb's Cleanliness Protocol and other relevant details or Health & Safety Guidelines, Covid-19 FAQs, if you are planning a trip.

Airbnb enhanced clean protocol

Airbnb's significant improvement is a 72-hour buffer, meant to ensure a gap of certain days between the stays. The idea is to provide hosts with the necessary time to clean and sanitize a property before the next guest arrives.

Airbnb also introduced a host certification process at the end of May 2020. With this step, Airbnb ensures the travelers that platform hosts follow unified cleaning guidelines for properties, with recommended disinfecting products and requirements by health & hospitality experts. 

The spread of correct information and sticking to the safety rules are the main points travel apps currently concentrate on. So far, it seems to be the only way the world can deal with the pandemic and do their part to help prevent the potential outbreaks in the future.

From another point is the question: do people want to travel again? With the highest number of countries where travel restrictions currently exist, the majority escape travelling if there is not an urgent need. Though psychologically it’s hard to be in a lockdown for a relatively long time, the vaccine against COVID-19 is not invented yet and health is more important than new experience. 

To put it in the nutshell, though the short-term future of travel is vague, extra safety while booking a destination is an opportunity we have to avoid health problems while travelling.