Guest cancellation request soon after booking

A guest booked last night around 9pm.

I went to bed at 10:30 and woke up to see a message from them around midnight mentioning they’d need to cancel.

Their rationale:

I met some problem. I’m writing to you to ask for refund. I am graduate student who studied in Boston and I bought a car. However, my dealer noticed me that I need to be in Boston at 8/12-8/13 one hour ago. He need to give the car to me at that time. So, my trip to New York need to be canceled sadly. So sorry to cause your inconveniences.

It seems like BS and they found another listing.

I have a strict cancellation policy, and given the booking is >7 days away if they cancel there’s a 50% refund. I told her I’d instead cancel for $100 (< one night’s fee) given the limited time it’s been off the market.

Does this sound reasonable to you guys?

Also, how would I execute the cancellation? Have her cancel and then I send a refund?

That does NOT sound reasonable!

YOU do not cancel. The guest must do the cancel and take what Air will give. DO NOT refund a dime. You have Strict for a reason – stick to your guns!


Follow Ken’s advice and NEVER cancel a booking on behalf of a guest; it’s their responsibility, not yours, and Airbnb penalise hosts who cancel.


The others have given good advice that you should not cancel on behalf of the guest. They need to do that on their end.

As for the mechanics of it: they go to the reservation confirmation and select “modify or cancel”, then follow the prompts. You can refund more than the standard 50% if you choose - go to their reservation confirmation and select “Send or request money”

Personally, I’d refund the full amount. They tied your calendar up for what - 3 hours? I have no problem keeping 50% when someone has blocked my calendar for weeks or months, but my conscience would eat at me to pay myself $33.33/hour for doing nothing. I’ve occasionally kept a $60 “cancellation fee” if they’ve used a lot of my time in messaging before cancelling.


In total it was off the market for 1/2 day because I was in bed when they wrote.

It’s more of the principal and the hassle for me. I suspect that she was very blasé when booking in the first place and find her story difficult to believe. She wasted my time and cost a potential booking by taking the listing off the market, and could have avoided it by thinking ahead in the first place.

I agree that the guest found a listing they liked better. Had the same thing happen to me recently. Guest booked for 3 nights in August and cancelled about 36 hours later. They got a full refund though, because Air has given me, without my ability to change it, the Strict with Grace Period policy.

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I would let them cancel and refund them, and free up the calendar.
If a guests cancels within a few minutes or hours from booking, I do not mind. Mistakes happen.

It is not that they kept your calendar blocked for months.

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As others stated, let the guest cancel themselves; don’t do it for them. Many guests don’t know this and need to be instructed that they must cancel themselves. Some will try to get you to promise a refund before making the cancellation, which is annoying.

In that situation you can say, “you would need to cancel from your end, as hosts cannot facilitate that for you.” and if you feel generous…“once the cancellation is made, if we are able to re-book the date(s), we will notify you of any possible refund.”

Then wait until after that date has come and gone and you’re paid, to send any refund, but only if you choose to. You are not obligated to refund anyone with a strict policy on your listing.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I love that!!


Doesn’t “strict” have a 48 hour grace period with free cancellation?

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Excellent advice about getting the guest to cancel. It happens from time to time. If my potential guests cancel because they’re booking with another listing - but give me some daft excuse about a family emergency or whatever - I don’t mind if it was just a short stay and if I think I can get another booking. (I post on social media - 'due to unavoidable cancellation, this fabulous apartment is now available… etc)

Regarding the mechanics of the refund and so on, I act a bit dumb. I explain to the guests that we hosts don’t receive any of their money at all until after check in so, therefore, Airbnb has their money. So they must take up the issue of the refund with Airbnb, not us. I admit that I haven’t had loads of cancellations but that approach has worrked well for me.


It seems to depend. I used to have just the Strict policy, but Air has changed it so that I now have Strict with free 48 hour cancellation and I have no choice in the matter. There is still a plain Strict policy, but I don’t know what you have to do to be able to have it.

I agree with AlisonH. Obviously they have to cancel, not you, but for the sake of tying up your calendar for such a short time, I would refund in full. I would feel very uncomfortable keeping the money in this situation. :confused:

hi, i just had a guest walk in to my place then leave a message that they were leaving. i called the guy and he was hostile saying that i fooled him in to thinking there were 6 beds( i have 5 plus a sofa bed). i took a friendly approach, let him rant then turned his attitude around to where he admitted to not reading my listing carefully. i sent him email next day and gave him 1/2 of the room rate back. he paid cleaning fee and fees. he’s happy. was going to leave 1 star review. i explained that i couldn’t rebook the room, etc. that’s how i handled it.
oh, and he cancelled, not me. he knows airbnb rules and didn’t want to cancel until i said I’d try to get him some kind of refund. he knew the system.