Hosting a guest doesn’t always go as planned. For one reason or another, there may be no choice but to cancel a reservation. Not only can cancellations interrupt guest’s plans, but they can also leave the guest unsure whether to book with Airbnb again. It can also impact your income and standing as a host.
As a result of these consequences, to guests and Airbnb itself, there are penalties imposed on hosts for cancellations. The severity of the penalty depends upon when the cancellation is made prior to the guest’s arrival.
As a host, the penalty will depend on when you accepted the booking. It will also take into account how close to check-in you cancel and how many times you have cancelled in the past. In addition to the monetary fee, your calendar will remain blocked. This means you won’t be able to accept any bookings for the duration of the cancellation period.
If you cancel one day prior to check-in, an automated review will be posted to your profile. This review states that you have cancelled within 24 hours before check-in. Be aware that this review cannot be removed and will be public. However, you can leave a comment to explain why cancelling was unavoidable. Guests can also choose to leave a public review if their booking is cancelled within 24 hours before check-in.
If you have cancelled 3 reservations in a year (beginning from your first cancellation), you are subject to an account suspension. However, Airbnb says the suspension can be lifted for an ‘extenuating circumstance’. For those holding a Superhost status, it is a requirement that you meet the 1% cancellation rate. If not, you risk losing the Superhost status. If you have attained Superhost status, you may be able to remove reviews.
Hosts do have the ability to alter their cancellation policy at any time. However, if a reservation has already been placed, the cancellation policy cannot be altered. Rather, the new policy will take effect for all future bookings. If a guest does cancel a reservation after you modified your cancellation policy, it is totally up to you if you choose to grant them a refund or not, it all depends on their reason for cancelling. It is recommended that you discuss your intentions with the guest prior to your decision, so both parties are in agreement that cancellation is the best option. If both guest and host agree that a booking should be cancelled, Airbnb may release you from the booking without penalty if you are able to negotiate that result.
If the host feels in any way uncomfortable with the guest, they may choose to cancel. The only way a reservation can be cancelled without a penalty is if ‘instant-book’ is turned on. What reasons may cause a host to feel uncomfortable? They can include; poor reviews, no communication, or if they feel the guest may break one or more of the house rules.
It is important to remember that hosts only have 3 online penalty-free cancellations per year. Any cancellation beyond this requires Airbnb Support to cancel free of charge over the phone. Too many cancellations may have Airbnb Support prompt you to turn off instant-book.
The penalty all depends on how long before check-in you decide to cancel. Basically, if the host cancels more than 7 days before check-in, $50 is withheld from their next payout. If the cancellation falls within the same week as the check-in, $100 is deducted. However, not all cancellations are subject to a fee. Airbnb states that if you have successfully taken your past 10 or more reservations without a cancellation, the fees may be waived, pending review by the Airbnb team.
Cancelling a reservation isn’t ideal for any party involved, but sometimes there are situations out of our control and there is no choice but to cancel. Airbnb’s cancellation policies are fair to both hosts and guests. Despite there being quite a lot of information to remember, there are no hidden fees.
No matter what you decide to do when cancelling, it is recommended to speak with the guest and let them know about what is going to happen. More often than not, reaching an agreement will leave the guest happy, or at least happier. It also decreases the chances of a negative review and any other challenges that come with it. In a nutshell, if you do the right thing by the guest, and follow the processes set by Airbnb, as well as the information outlined in this article, you should have no problems if you do need to cancel a reservation. Happy hosting!
Jake Leavy has worked in the content industry for 8+ years. Travel writing has been his main focus, however, he also has luxury hotel management experience under his belt. He has traveled to over 50 countries and loves immersing himself into different cultures. Jake combines his passion for travel and hospitality experience to offer hosts tips and tricks to improve their business.
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