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Vrbo warns rental owners against downplaying coronavirus threat

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Vacation rental service Vrbo is telling unit owners not to downplay the coronavirus threat in dealing with travelers trying to cancel reservations, threatening to ban those who don’t comply.

The warning comes after two Arizona news organizations, Phoenix New Times and ABC15, reported on travelers who said they were given misinformation from the unit owners about the danger of coronavirus when they tried to cancel trips and get refunds.

Vrbo, which connects travelers to owners and property managers offering short-term rentals, included this statement in a COVID-19 Emergency Policy on its website: “Any intimidation of travelers (such as suggesting that travel is safer for them than staying home or dismissing the severity of the crisis) will result in permanent removal from Vrbo and Expedia Group.” Expedia Group owns Vrbo.

In a letter on the Vrbo website signed by president Jeff Hurst, the service acknowledges the size of the crisis: “In Vrbo’s nearly 25 years, we’ve been through a lot, but nothing comes close to the current challenges facing our travelers, partners, and team members around the world.”

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