Evolve drives success with flexible cancellation policies

This holiday rental company grew bookings and revenue by over 50% while delighting guests.


increase in gross bookings per listing¹


increase in gross revenue per listing²

Challenge: How to balance risk and flexibility in holiday rental bookings

Holiday rental hospitality company Evolve manages more than 29,000 properties globally and has been a growing partner with Vrbo for over 12 years.  

The past few years have brought a shift in holiday rental booking trends, and guests are demanding more flexibility when booking travel. Offering flexible cancellation policies has become an important way to boost bookings and drive revenue. Like many holiday rental owners and managers, the Evolve team identified that offering more restrictive policies may not have met their guests’ needs or made it simple for them to cancel or adjust when travel plans changed.  

Jay Whiteley, Evolve’s senior director of distribution partnerships and performance, wanted to address guests’ need for flexibility while minimising the risk of increased cancellations. Knowing that many travellers were searching for rentals using the ‘free cancellations’ filter on Vrbo, he wanted to make sure that Evolve properties weren’t filtered out of consideration.

While exploring possible optimisation solutions with Vrbo’s account management team, Evolve determined that they could see tangible benefits from offering more accommodating policies. In fact, over 75% of travellers say that they’re more likely to book a holiday rental property with a flexible cancellation policy.3 And nearly half of consumers say they would never book non-refundable lodging domestically.4

Jay and his team of industry and revenue professionals decided to test shifting from their standard 30% non-refundable deposit at booking towards cancellation policies that offered a free cancellation period and were more accommodating to guest plans changing, to help Evolve remain competitive and provide the best guest experience possible.   

Solution: Leverage A/B testing to make a data-driven decision on flexible policies

Evolve’s first step was to A/B test a more flexible holiday rental cancellation policy on a small group of listings to give their team the data they needed to make the best decision. It was important to test the overall impact of any new cancellation policies, rather than switch their entire portfolio at the same time.

An A/B test was set up across multiple markets, offering the new policy alongside their existing, more restrictive policy. They looked at several factors, including the rebooking rate, to understand how often, once a booking was cancelled, they were able to rebook those same dates at the same or higher rates.

Jay and his team hoped the test would show increases in bookings and revenue, along with greater search results, visibility and a positive impact on their ability to deliver a world-class customer experience. 


‘We determined that flexible cancellation policies had a significant positive impact on our business—providing more revenue and a better guest experience.’

Jay Whiteley

Senior Director Distribution Partnerships & Performance, Evolve

Results: Flexible policies helped increase bookings and drive revenue

Within the first two weeks, the team saw significant improvements in the performance of these properties. The more flexible policy helped Evolve increase bookings by 26% and revenue by 53% per listing, fill more availability, and extend their booking lead times and length of stay.5

After further analysis, Evolve was also excited to see the cancellation rate under the new policy remain nearly the same as properties with less flexible options. Cancellations remained stable and comparable to the prior year.6  

Finally, they were able to improve guest experience by reducing friction in the booking journey. The flexible policy gave travellers the benefit of a more attractive offering with lower risk. Jay’s team felt the new policy demonstrated trust, giving guests more confidence to book.

This successful test has led Evolve to offer an accommodating cancellation policy across their entire portfolio, helping guests find the flexibility and peace of mind they’re looking for. 

Could more flexible cancellation policies help you to delight guests while improving your business performance? Consider adjusting your policies today as part of your growth strategy. 


1 Evolve internal data, Feb 2022

2 Evolve internal data, Feb 2022

3 Vrbo internal data

4 Expedia Traveller Value Index, 2023

5 Evolve internal data, Feb 2022

6 Evolve internal data, Feb 2022

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