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I have a VRBO 1 night guest coming on Saturday and she just texted asking can she cancel and get a refund du to the fires and its not safe. Some background… The listing is a block from my house in Idyllwild California, we just had a big scary fire event and I was evacuated for 5 days and was able to return Sunday. The town is unscathed, everything is open and we need our visitors to come up! This was my response let me know what you think, this is a strict cancellation policy VRBO no refund 30 days
I just saw your text message I want to assure you that it is it safe up here, fire is over 90% contained and miles away, the evacuations were lifted on Sunday. Not only is it safe, the town was unscathed it is green and no burn areas can be seen from town or the cabin. If you insist on cancelling I can try and get it re-rented and if I can re-rent it I will refund you, if I have to rent it cheaper to try and get a last minute booking I would refund you the amount of the new booking. At this late notice it will be difficult to re-rent I think.
That seems more than reasonable to me. I don’t have a vacation rental but I’ve seen VRs and traditional bed and breakfasts that have a section in their listing or on their website telling guests that they have a strict policy and that guests need to buy travel insurance.
I think your response is fine. (Actually, in a morbid sort of way, I’d be fascinated to stay in a unscathed but recently scary area )
I’ve had one or two cancellations here when there’s been ‘bad weather’ due. It’s irritating because more often than not, ‘bad weather’ doesn’t mean hurricane or a tropical storm even, just an hour of hard rain then a glorious Florida sunny day.
Some guests are like me and enjoy a good storm. A couple who came here from Germany put on their bathing suits and went outside to dance and cavort in the storm, loving the wind, the thunder and the lightening. A reaction that was a bit extreme but it shows that guests can enjoy weird conditions
When I’ve had weather cancellations it’s given me the opportunity to do maintenance work and extra cleaning in the rental (plus, I admit, a bit of a breather) but these cancellations have been guests who were coming for just a couple of days so it didn’t damage the monthly bottom line too much. If they’d been longer bookings that would have really made a dent in the monthly figures then I would have done exactly the same as you - offered a refund if the cancelled dates were filled by another booking.
VRBO prompts the guest to buy insurance. My direct book website prompts guest to by insurance, 7% of the booking is the cost, if the guest does not buy they insurance the get an email or two offering it again.
AirBnb gets about 15% of a booking, does not prompt guest to buy insurance and uses the host as insurance.
Next time I am confronted with something like this my first response will be did you get the insurance it may cover it…
Put the suggestion of Trip Coverage Option into your contract / agreement that every guest signs.
In case of a unwanted cancel ABB will not make sure that you get your money …but a court of law might rule in your favor based upon the wording in the contract between you and the guest…
I dont want to be free insurance coverage for Airbnb.
One year later here near Los Angeles…
The winds were howling enough to get the power company to turn off our electricity. The guests stayed one night, last night, and I offered and gave them a one night refund for tonight and they left today at 2. We still are without power. There is still a wind event, and there was considerable ash and smoke from fires reasonably far off.
Before the fires last weekend this guest was already concerned what might happen if there was an evacuation or any threat, we were able to calm them down and assured them they wouldn’t have to stay or pay if they were uncomfortable or distressed.
Two years ago, during the worst of the Santa Rosa CA fires, we had a reservation as Airbnb guests at a house that turned out to be on the very edge of the mandatory evacuation area. On the day before we were to fly to California, my doctor advised me not to go because of smoke (it was terrible in that area). So we canceled and used Airbnb to message the host to explain why.
I had no idea then that Airbnb might have given us a refund. We asked the host if they would, and they didn’t even respond.
We wondered about that, but apparently their house didn’t burn at all. My husband’s parents lived about three blocks from that Airbnb. We have subsequently driven by it, and it looks exactly as it did before. The closest house that burned was about a mile away.