Expedia Group appealed last week to hoteliers to join a worldwide program put in place by the company to assist with the thousands of cancellations from guests due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The operator of accommodation booking sites including Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire and others said it was facing an "unprecedented volume of calls" from travelers asking for help with non-refundable reservations.
Many travelers physically cannot or should not take their trips, Expedia's president of the travel partners group, Cyril Ranque, said in an email to hoteliers that was viewed by PhocusWire.
In response, Expedia Group created the Global Cancelation Waiver Program - a mechanism that will see every property in its portfolio automatically enrolled so that a guest's cancellation and refund can be issued if they wish to cancel a booking.
Hoteliers had until midnight PST on Friday, March 20, to opt out of the program.
In the letter, Ranque said due to the "global force majeure circumstances, we intend to enroll all partners with outstanding non-refundable prepaid bookings made prior to March 19th for stays between March 20 and April 30, 2020 into the Global Cancellation Waiver Program."
He added: "We strongly believe that this is the right thing to do for travelers, and of course Expedia Group will not earn any compensation on these canceled bookings."
For hotels that opt out, Ranque said Expedia Group will give those hotels' travelers a one-year travel voucher if they cancel non-refundable reservations at a property within the dates March 20 to April 30, unless issuance of a voucher is not technically possible.
He added: "As a thank you for putting travelers first, you will receive a boost to enhance your visibility across our sites for the next 12 months."
Expedia Group's move came at the end of a week when it emerged that Booking.com had put in place a similar refund policy but not in consultation with hoteliers.