Consequences of letting a reservation request expire

I consistently have trouble with guests who make a reservation request but provide zero information. It is especially troubling to me when they have no prior reviews and have not written anything in their profile. Santa Barbara charges me a transient occupancy tax and bed tax which I don’t collect on site but I fully describe on site in the very first description of my home. It doesn’t matter how clearly I describe this tax, guests simply don’t read. So I always reiterate the fact that this is a separate tax and I send them the amount and I don’t accept the reservation until they have confirmed that they understand this. If they have not told me who is coming I also include that question. If I do not get an answer I decline. I accept many reservations and my calendar is consistently full. But recently I declined a few in a row and Airbnb sent me a message telling me that I was in danger of being temporarily suspended. It annoyed me because I have been doing this for six years, have great reviews, and I am a super host. I have never canceled anyone. I feel like at this point the algorithm should change a little and they should trust that I am declining for good reasons. At any rate I called them and I said why should I be penalized if a guest refuses to communicate. The person I spoke with told me that instead of declining, once I have reached out to the guest, I should simply let the request expire. He told me that there are no consequences to that action. I took his advice and I immediately received a message telling me that letting a request expire negatively affects my response rate and my search placement. I am annoyed that I was given the wrong information from customer service and now I don’t know how to deal with people who won’t communicate.

The way I understand Airbnb’s policy is that you can decline an inquiry and not get penalized. It’s a different story for a request to book. Request to book one has to accept or decline.

I do agree with you that it’s not fair to the host when there is no information about the guest. It’s like the host is being forced to accept any guest despite their problematic issues. We’re being blindsided all the time and when issues arise, very little support from Airbnb.


I understand your frustration with people not reading. However I’m just as bad; I’m guilty of not reading everything too.

There are differences between an inquiry & a reservation request.

Inquiry. If you respond, you’ve met the obligation. No need to preapprove or decline unless you want to. No penalties for letting it expire.

Reservation request. Requires an accept or decline within 24 hours or those days will be blocked by Airbnb as not available for rental. I think you can manually unblock them.

If you don’t accept/decline it will affect your acceptance rate & response time scoring.

If you decline a high %% it puts your listing at risk for suspension and will put your listing to display lower in search results.

Other hosts have said to block the days instead of decline so the guest will see the reservation as not possible and move one and you don’t get hit by too many declines.

Recently I tried to do that and Airbnb wouldn’t let me block the requested nights. I don’t know if it was the system or operator error (me) who prevented the blocking.

Food for thought. Do a mini-root cause analysis. Look at how the information is presented in your listing.

Present critical info first?
Capitalize IMPORTANT words?
Leave some white space for easy reading?
use special charactersto bring something to their attention ?
Only include relevant info; limited details?

The information about the tax could not be any clearer. Capitalization, immediately visible, etc. However it really doesn’t matter because I automatically send a message with that information along with the message that I will accept the request when I have received confirmation from them acknowledging the separate tax. As I stated, I have been a host for six years so of course I understand the difference between an inquiry and a request. Very irresponsible of customer service to tell me to simply let the request expire.

I wouldn’t expect this to change.

Perhaps try the technique of sending a special offer with the tax amount included. Or if you don’t want to host them at all send an outrageously high special offer.

I’ve heard of people getting this warning but I wonder if they actually follow through with suspending accounts for this reason.

I agree, @Jefferson. It’s also possible to roll your taxes into your nightly rate with a little math, and doing that might be more consistent if you list on multiple platforms.

That’s not some peculiarity that only applies to guests - people don’t read. I’d like a quid for every time I’ve ticked a box saying 'check here to show that you’ve read the terms and conditions and of course I haven’t.

It’s important to let your guests know why you need the information. If they understand that you absolutely need to know then one of three things should happen. One, the guests may understand perfectly why you need the information and reply or two, they don’t want to pay any extra than the advertised rate. Finally three, they may have been looking for a more casual place without having the host need info from them and therefore they book elsewhere.

Alternatively, you could do what I did for years before Airbnb dealt with the bed tax here and that is simply add the tax to your nightly price.

I didn’t realize you were a rocket scientist…



If I add the tax to my nightly price then Airbnb gets a portion of it both from me and from the guest. Ethically that bothers me. And the problem is not that I am not getting paid the tax. I do not accept the reservation until they have acknowledged the tax. The problem is that when they refuse to communicate, I don’t want to accept the reservation. They are typically the same people that think that a request is actually a confirmed reservation. Those are also the same people who have read nothing about my home. In my 6+ years of hosting I have found that the people who do not read the description of my home tend to be the worst guests. I would like the option to simply decline guests that don’t answer my questions. Airbnb told me that I didn’t have to decline, but I could simply let the time run out if they do not respond. My complaint here is that I followed that advice and found it to be erroneous.

@Jefferson showed you how it can be done correctly (although this is somewhat new), but even without that feature, I wouldn’t be worried about Airbnb taking another ~15% on top of your local occupancy tax as the additional fees will only add about 1-2% to the total reservation price. I would imagine a lot of customers would be glad to pay that for the convenience of not having to worry about it again at check-in. There’s nothing unethical about it. Your pricing is your pricing.

I doubt this will ever happen. AirBnB’s wants hosts to use instant-book, so they really don’t have any incentive to make it easier for hosts to use request-to-book.

I’m sorry you got bad advice from Airbnb’s customer service. This is not new. There incompetent customer service has been a big source of complaints from hosts and guests since before I started hosting. The regulars here are all aware of it and try to avoid contacting them.


Unfortunately there’s nothing anyone can do here to help you with that. As others have said, you can suggest it to Airbnb until you’re blue in the face but they are unlikely to change.

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I’ve got Airbnb collecting the state sales tax and I “roll in” the local lodging tax with the price so the guests don’t have to be bothered.

Yes, this results in sales tax and Airbnb fee percentage being charged on the occupancy tax portion of the payment, so the the math is always off by a dollar or so.

I’ve decided not to care.


Always DECLINE a Request to Book – reason: “uncomfortable with this…”. NEVER just let them expire. That’s what has caused you problems.