These days, it’s not uncommon to have a more stricter cancellation policy, especially if you are working with international travelers.
People change their minds a lot about their bookings, especially if they are planning international travel and they read all kinds of things in the news, much of which is not necessarily accurate, before they pull the trigger on their trips.
We’ve adopted over the past year a more stricter cancellation policy simply as a matter of protection for financial loss during these uncertain times but we’re finding that guests will still look for “loopholes” to get out of their commitments with us.
Recently, we had a guest that made a booking with us at least 6 months prior decide that they didn’t want to travel for one reason or another a month before their stay. This happens now and then and typically we aren’t able to rebook for the period because of the complexities of international travel—it’s much more difficult these days for “last minute travelers” to make bookings and arrange trips. We all know this.
Because our cancellation policy was a little stricter than the typical “easy going” policy, our guest’s cancellation wouldn’t trigger a full refund but more of a partial refund. They weren’t happy about this and in the end found a way to get around our policy to maximize their refund.
After trying every option, they sent us in a change request to shorten their days of stay, which I accepted at the time assuming that they were acting in good faith and that they finally worked out their issues and were really planning on making their trip after all. I should have known better and not agreed to this but times are tough and travel is kind of challenging right now. So we gave in and accepted the change request.
Very soon after we agreed to the reservation change they turned around and put in a full cancellation. Basically what they were doing here was getting around the cancellation policy so that they would have fewer days to actually cancel and maximize their refund, The thread of communications they provided made this very clear after the dust all settled.
The troubling part is that we brought the issue up with Airbnb management, which took quite a bit more effort on our part. They agreed with us that what took place wasn’t right but told us that we were out of luck and that there was nothing that they would be able to do.
I always wondered about this loophole. I’ve always been a little weary when guests send in a reservation change request to substantially change the dates of their stay. I always thought in theory that a guest could change their stay and then turn around and cancel to lessen their exposure. Sure enough, now I know it can happen, and does happen.
We at least hoped that Airbnb would have our back here. Nope. Airbnb’s priority is to let the guests do what they want and not protect the host.
My experience here has now taught me to not allow any reservation changes when guests want to reduce their stay. This is unfortunate.