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Flexible vs moderate cancellation policy

While reading various threads, I realized that there is absolutely no benefit to me having a flexible cancellation policy other than possibly more bookings because of search filters or Air’s algorithms placing me higher.

When we were setting up our account, my husband’s co-worker said that he only books places with a flexible cancellation policy. I get that, but that’s also places that do mostly 1-2 night stays, a room in a house, etc.

I’m starting to realize that as I rent out a whole apartment and do mostly 4-7 night stays and book a month or more in advance, this could really hurt me. Has anyone switched back and forth and had experience with this? If I change to moderate, would that only affect future bookings because I wouldn’t want it to affect current bookings who signed up already. But I’m not even open for another 45 days out, and I don’t want someone to book way in advance and then cancel the day before when I was counting on those earnings and can’t fill it!


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I have always only had strict so can’t share the experience of switching back and forth. I would not put a whole home rental on anything less than a strict policy. Most people who have used Homeaway/VRBO and other sites to book whole homes, already expect much stricter policies than Air’s strict policy.

At one point Air was testing removing the option for hosts to change their policy to strict (if they had already chosen moderate or flexible). I spoke to reps. several times about this and they just kind of talked in circles.

I have another listing that won’t be ready for several months, and had asked if strict will always be an option for new listings. They kept saying they don’t know for sure.

Then when I heard that some new hosts now are only being given the instant book option, I freaked out. I went ahead and created the listing and threw up a pic. I chose strict and no instant book…then I snoozed the listing.

If you edit your policy, it should only affect future reservations.


Thank you! That helps a lot!

He switch from flexible to moderate was seamless. There was no change in bookings. It is still quite a lenient cancellation policy.

Stitching to strict hasn’t slowed things down, but from time to time people will contact you regarding discretion on individual cancellations.

And I guess that opens up other questions: with the strict cancellation, is it plain and simple whenever they cancel they automatically get 50% off? Do you get the 50% then instead of the day after check-in? How does payment work for guests as I’ve never travelled with Air: do they have the money deducted when they book, or when they check-in and Air holds it? When I get a cancellation request, can I then offer more than 50% back based on circumstances and how far out it is?

I’m kinda hesitant to switch to strict, but if I had some flexibility in refunding more or knew better how it worked I would be more willing to use it. I just don’t want being found under search terms to go way down because I’m trying to protect my bookings/income. I don’t want to be walked all over, but I still want to be lenient when true emergencies arise. I know that when booking my own vacations they had strict cancellation policies and since I’d like to attract responsible family stays for 4-8 days I want to be reasonable to all parties involved.

I switched from moderate to strict for a week in June and didn’t get any bookings. I don’t know if that was a coincidence. I have about 90% one night stays who only book a day or less in advance. So it wouldn’t even affect them, but I switched back to moderate.

You can refund more back if you want to be really nice. Guest gets charged upfront for everything except for damage deposit (I’m not referring to long term rentals…that’s different).

When you would receive the 50%…not exactly sure if you have to wait until day after the original check in.

But no worries…Air has the guest already covered for some emergencies under their “extenuating circumstances” policy. You should google it if you haven’t read it already. You get zero, zip, nada if guests cancels last minute, and Air forfeits their booking fee. And Air does not really investigate the guest’s story/proof of documention, etc. Air does not want to hurt the guest’s “feelings” - yet they ask hosts to produce mounds and mounds of evidence, proof, estimates on company letter head, etc. if they need to make a damage claim…sigh…

Ok, that helps a lot. Since guests pay up front whether they book months in advance or day of, that makes me more confident in possibly switching to strict. Yes, I want the income, but if I’m honest, I only want people who are serious about the rental. It is interesting that air is holding onto that money for months at a time in many situations. Though I guess it makes sense as when I book places I have to pay at least 50% up front as well.

As far as I know, the only time people don’t pay fully upfront is for long term stays.

I don’t know your market nor property…but in my situation my guests are not booking based on whether they can cancel last minute. It would be interesting to know how many guests even filter by cancellation policy when booking a house. If guests are just passing through (or just on a business trip) and need a place for a couple of nights, then I can see them filtering.

But guests who are picky and choosy about what the house offers (picturing themselves on vacation)…probably want to see all the options available to them. Just my guess.

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you need strict, you will get real bookings this way

I think guests know you mean business if you are on strict, collect a deposit and a cleaning. It’s one way to show them that you respect yourself enough to make sure guests don’t take advantage. In theory it should attract a better caliber of guest.

Many listings are on strict. Our homes are not hotels and we often cannot absorb the pain of a last minute cancellation. Even at a week out, strict is not all that strict.

Depending on the reason, And if it is in dispute, Air may side with the guest on the cancellation. air almost always calls you trying to get you to refund out of the goodness of your heart. No thanks! you blocked my calendar then canceled for no good reason, or a false reason, then you eat it!


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