Tourist Accommodation bookings - requiring full prepayment months in advance

I am in NSW heading to QLD next May (2022) for a friend’s wedding.
The Accommodation (group of villa/cottages not a hotel) is demanding full prepayment for 4 nights, before they will accept the booking.
Their cancellation policy is they will offer a credit that must be redeemed within 6 months.
If it wasn’t for the wedding I wouldn’t ever travel to that location so there’s no way I’d use it again at a later date.
With the virus and travel restrictions I’m sure by then we won’t have any restricted movements but it all seems very demanding coupled with the no cancellation/refund policy as well.

I can’t book elsewhere as it’s a fairly remote location and where all the guests will be staying there for the week.
Are the owners being unreasonable or is that just the way things are these days.
It’s over $1,000 to hold for nearly a year and I can’t get back if I had to cancel say due to another lockdown etc.
What are your thoughts?


Welcome to the Community @Mosh

There are other topics similar yet a bit different about deposits and cancellation policies that can be found using the Community search tool.

Venues are free to put whatever T&C they wish on their bookings. If it is a unique and remote location, under normal circumstances it might be reasonable. Under COVID it seems a far reach.

I presume the $1,000 is just for your cabin, not the lot of them.

One option, depending how close you are to them (friendship not distance), explain the situation to the happy couple and tactfully suggest they relocate their nuptials to a more COVID friendly location.

In your position and considering the state of the nation under COVID with snap lockdowns, I would respectfully decline to attend if they persevered with the location, and if they are the seemingly close friends they appear, double or more up on a gift in lieu of attending.

Alternatively, is the friendship worth potentially losing the $1,000?

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Thanks Phil, did a quick search but couldn’t find anything relevant.
Yes the $1000 is just for my cabin, everyone are couples so a big hit for a solo traveller.
No chance of getting the Friend to change venue as other guests have already booked, so it’s locked in I guess.
I’ll talk to the venue and see if they can soften the blow a bit given the circumstances.
Just wanted to find out if it was against any official/ACCC rules (which I googled but also couldn’t find).


Not exactly rules, but this probably covers it.


In my view, those terms for booking and the credit for accomodation rather than a refund is something I would not agree to, especially nine months in advance.
In effect if something happens you have lost your $1000. Wedding put off or cancelled, lockdowns, fire, flood, illness, etc.
The other guests, can you stay with one of them? Cabins would usually accomodate more than just two.


Thanks Greg, they’re only Queen bed (couples) cabins, all of them.
I’ve spoken to the manager who’s very understanding of my concerns and asking the owner what they can do. Hopefully they will be less restrictive and understanding.


Pretty much everywhere I have stayed at from hotels to motels to cabins had a provision for an extra guest in a room using a folding bed. Ask about that.

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The accommodation would want to be something very special at $250/night.

As others have indicated, the Ts and Cs are at the discrection of the owner/manager.

What you need to consider: Epidemiologists have been discussing on the news that variants of COVID are very likely while the vast majority of the world’s population is unvaccinated. New variants may hit us and the current vaccines may be ineffective against them. Consequently, lockdowns may be reinstituted to protect the population. If that were to happen, you would have lost your $1,000. Or perhaps if you were allowed to travel, but Qld only permits weddings to proceed with six people in attendance. You could be stuck out in a ‘fairly remote location’, but not allowed to attend the wedding or mingle.

So due to the uncertainty of what is going to happen in relation to COVID between now and May 2022, I suggest holding off booking anything until much closer to the date when you can see that the wedding will be certain to proceed with all guests permitted to attend.

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This isn’t industry best practice and potentially an accommodation provider who thinks it is the guests fault if they can’t travel and fulfil the boking because of government imposed COVID measures outside the control of the guest.

Being an accommodation provider, we have taken a different approach that it isn’t the guests fault that they can’t travel…when a government imposed measure prohibits such travel. If we accept guest bookings, we believe that we take on the risk of having cancellations in such case - not our guests. (see our own business payment and Covid cancellation details in my next post as an example of industry best practice and where I am coming from).

Are their alternative accommodation providers in the stay location which have far more favourable (or at least balanced) COVID cancellation policies? I personally would be looking elsewhere unless you are prepared to potentially lose $1000 (say if you can’t travel and can’t reschedule travel within the 6 months credit limit period) or you have no other suitable accommodation choices.

So what is your payment policy?
Payment in full, up front, possibly many months in advance, or
A reasonable deposit to secure a booking, and then full payment on either arrival or departure?

100% payment on check-in (the only exception is some booking sites which allow prepayment using their payment systems). This saves us the time and effort trying to work out what has been paid and then setting up reversals/transfers for refunds.

On a rare occasion, some guests request prepayment…we advise against, but some insist for various reasons (e.g. their own budgeting, before end of financial year, booking is a gift to others etc).

For prepayment using a booking platform payment system and cancellation is required, for our guests we arrange for 100% refund on any prepayment made.

We only take credit card details only to secure bookings - no payments (except for those outlined above). Such can be used to process no-shows or standard cancellation fees should they apply.

We have a special COVID-19 cancellation policy (see below) which overrides our standard cancellation policy in the event that the booking can’t be fulfilled through a government imposed travel restriction. We try to reschedule the booking, where possible and practicable, but we recognise that this is almost impossible to do.

We have only had to reverse one prepayment made by a guest in this time. We possibly have had 100+ cancellations since March 2020 (don’t keep records, but in the August 2021 we had 12 cancellations for one booking platform - just happened to be reconciling last months bookings to check we hadn’t been charged commissions on bookings which met our COVID-19 cancellation policy). Every time a lockdown is announced, we get a wave of cancellation requests. When lockdowns are removed, we get a wave of bookings. This is life in the accommodation industry at the moment.

Our business cancellation policy is:

Important note about COVID-19 . Please be aware of the current risk of travel restrictions being imposed due to COVID-19, which may not be covered by travel insurance. If you are unable to travel due solely to mandatory travel restrictions and/or lock-downs, we will assist you with moving your booking within 12 months of cancellation. If you are unable to reschedule your travel and you are unable to fulfil your booking due to government imposed COVID-19 restrictions outside your control, we will waiver any cancellation fees which would otherwise have been incurred as a result of the cancellation.


Could you hire a camper? It may work out about the same cost… I don’t know, never done it myself, but the whole thing sounds dodgy to me…


That is the sort of reasonable business practice I would expect, in complete contrast to the conditions imposed on the OP.
Well done to you.

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We sleep well at night.

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Which part, hiring a campervan, or paying upfront in full for a cabin months ahead with no refund provision?

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Owner has accepted 50% deposit and guaranteed in writing 100% full refund if travel is restricted or even if the wedding is cancelled.
Thanks all, I wouldn’t have pushed without your guidance/support.


Errrr. I think you know which I meant. But in case, obviously, I would have thought, paying up front for the cabin

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Great result and pleased that they provided a satisfactory (and reasonable) outcome. Well done for pushing for your rights.


Very recently I made a holiday booking via for a two week stay in a house in Byron Bay in August 2022. I payed what I thought would be about a 50% deposit ( with full amount deducted a month or so before arriving. ) To my surprise the full amount was deducted( which would mean the company would be able to gain interest from my payment for 10 months!). After I received the email confirming reservation and payment ( of full amount) I noted that the company’s deposit policy was that the guest will be charged a prepayment of the total price of the reservation at any time. This wasnt clear in the original booking. Also the guest can cancel free of charge until 60 days before arrival, but if cancelled 60 days before they will get no refund no matter what the reason for cancellation! I havent experienced either of these requirements before so was wondering what the legality of them are? I ended up cancelling the booking next day and booked through a local agent, which was $1200 cheaper!


Hi @HeOZ , welcome to the community.

If they are disclosed at the time of booking and also attached to the booking confirmation, they are legal.

With and other booking platforms, they only allow one payment and cancellation policy - which generally does not suit businesses which may have a standard (non-covid) cancellation/payment policy and a special covid cancellation/payment policy. We are a business which have both and we present only the standard (non-covid) cancellation policy as the booking T&Cs. On receipt of the booking, we then message the guest to advise of the special Covid-19 Cancellation Policy. It is a little frustrating that booking platforms only allow one cancellation policy - and it take time and effort to advise our guests of the second one special for Covid.

A special covid policy is one where travel can’t be made to fulfil the booking, due to circumstances outside the control of the guests. Example are border closures and lockdowns. Some business are also not taking payment until arrival to avoid messy refund processes (this is what we do for our own business).

It is possible that the business you have booked may have two different policies. You can message them through to confirm their covid and non-covid policies.

Notwithstanding this, in relation to cancellations, a business can also use their discretion to waver a cancellation fee at an time. An example may be catastrophic event that causes the business or guest to cancel the booking (natural disaster, death etc).

The company won’t gain interest. Many business bank accounts don’t accrue interest, and it they do, current interest rates are so low that the return on having the money for 10 months will possible be less than the increase of the costs to provide the room to a guest.

Accommodation providers which use booking platforms can set their own policies within the framework allowed for by the platform. These are disclosed at the time of booking…however, it can be confusing if one has looked at a number of different accommodation options with different polices - as these will vary between providers.

If one is unsure, one can double check with the accommodation provider within the cancellation free period/payment policy and make a decision to continue with the booking. Note: if one does a last minute/late booking, this might be within the cancellation period where fees apply and therefore cancelling might not be possible without fees being paid/fee waivers at the discretion of the business.

Booking platforms are what could be called a ‘necessary evil’ and are now used by most consumers. They provide convenience and allow one to quickly look and compare at a range of accommodation options at the same location for the same dates. This convenience comes at a cost and commissions they make from a booking can be up to around 15-18% depending on the platform and the individual arrangements between the platform and the provider. These commissions are generally passed onto the consumer through higher prices.

Platforms also push for advertised pricing to be consistent with their competitors. If pricing isn’t they can penalise a provider which advertises the same room/service elsewhere cheaper.

BUT - this does not mean you can get a discount to advertised prices. Usually if one contacts a business directly, a business may provide a discount to the standard advertised rates as they avoid paying the commission. This way the guest wins (being cheaper) and the business as they upfront have a happier customer as they have received a discount.

The savings you have found could be that the local agent has dealt with the providers directly getting a discount and then passing this onto you.