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Guests changing reservation

Because we are in a high tourist area we get some guests wanting to change reservations. My issue I suppose is that they’ve been parked on our calendar at the height of the season for a couple to several months and now wish to change. Example being a guest wish to reduce the number of nights from 2 to 1. Our cancellation policy is strict. Should I accept the change or decline?


I see no reason why to accept the change.


Hi @shashdineecoretreat,

That’s up to you. But the concensus on this forum (this topic gets discussed a lot), is that one should not give guests a refund without good reason, otherwise they take advantage. If it is at very short notice, it may be difficult or impossible to rebook those days. One option is to tell your guests that you will give them a refund if you can rebook those days. The bottom link is that a host should not lose money because of the whim of guests.


Nope I would not change - decline. That’s the problem with bookings too far in the future. Makes them likely to change their minds


Can you choose to decline? What kind of message did you get?

I had someone recently who wanted to cancel last minute and they found some button that sent me a force cancellation that would have to done from my side. I got a note saying “so-and-so wants YOU to cancel” and there was the dreaded 24-hour countdown clock. I could either cancel right away with penalties, or not cancel and there would be worse penalties (listing suspended). I wrote back and told her that she needed to initiate the cancellation and that I would refund every penny, but if she hadn’t changed the setting I would have been screwed.

I don’t understand how Airbnb can even have a setting like that, which forces me to take penalties either way, when I’m not instigating the cancellation.

They said nothing. Simply sent a reservation alteration request to change the length of their stay from 2 days to 1. I declined the request.

That all sounds rather strange and alarming. Has anyone else experienced anything like this? How do you know there would be “worse penalties (listing suspended)”? Did the note say so? You didn’t happen to take a screenshot, did you? If you see it again, please do. And post it here. Thanks.

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If this is happening frequently in your market, the best way to avoid it is to confirm with the guest that once you accept the booking, then no dates can be changed…as calendar will be blocked, preventing other travelers from inquiring.

If you are on instant book, then put that in the message field guest will see right before hitting submit.

This happened to me recently. Never before had I received a reservation request that said “we don’t know if we will arrive this day or the next day.” I thought - huh?? Are these people crazy. Because I could just accept their reservation request and say too bad too sad. I did correspond back and forth, and they told me they would know for sure about a month before arrival. The ONLY reason I even allowed this is because the booking was for a minimum of 5 days, where usually I only get 3 days. So in the end I followed up with them to say I need to know by tomorrow, as other travelers cannot book these dates. I told them I only made an exception for their group and it is not my policy for guests to hold dates tentatively. They said they would take all 6 days. I am glad they were upfront about it at least. And of course it was my decision to even entertain the idea.

But I guess my point is that my particular guest did not think about the consequences of me just accepting the reservation, and not allowing her the option to change later. So strange…

Hi Faheem,
The message in my dashboard said “guest requests that you cancel reservation” or something similar.

I wish I had taken a screenshot of the page. On the left there was the option for me to cancel the reservation. There was a list of the standard penalties, loss of superhost, dates are blocked, and one or two other things. On the right side there was a notification with the 24-hour clock that said if I did not take any action, that the reservation would be cancelled automatically and that all the usual penalties would apply and that in addition my listing would be taken down for an unspecified amount of time. There was no place anywhere where I could opt out of these options.

This totally freaked me out. This was merely someone whose travel plans had changed and it seemed like it would have a severe impact on my listing. I wrote to her again, asking her to initiate the cancel and promised to return every penny. Fortunately she did go back and remove this request and instead did a typical cancel from her side.

I wonder if there is an emergency option that guests have which can force cancellation. Wouldn’t they have to get approval from Airbnb before this can be sent to me? This all happened within a really short timeframe.

I’ve had a LOT of cancellations recently, all of them “travel plans have changed” related. One guy stayed 1 week into a 2 week booking and then just announced he was leaving one morning on his way out the door. There were no issues, he said he needed to return to his home country for political reasons (he was a politician) That booking disappeared completely from my calendar, even the dates that he had stayed showed as empty. There was no option to leave a review either.

Good, I’m glad you were able to do that. I haven’t seen the guest side of the website, but I see there is a Change or Cancel option, so it looks like Change gives you more flexibility as a host to choose what happens.

That all sounds unreasonably threatening.

Everyone who is reading this, if you see anything weird like this, please take a screenshot and post it immediately. And learn how to take a screenshot if you don’t already know how to. It’s a useful thing to be able to do.

I use a nice program for this called Shutter, but I use a Linux based operating system called Debian, which I realise most people don’t use, so I don’t know how useful that information is.

@Artemis, writing to Airbnb asking them what the hell is going on is also a perfectly valid option. We’re not these people’s servants, slaves or minions. If you do, and they reply, post it here. But really, if you were to write to them, a screenshot would also be very helpful.

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I actually called Airbnb’s customer support line when this happened, but the guest changed the reservation while I was on hold so it was resolved (and the offending cancel page gone) before I could even talk to anyone.

I wonder if the guest tried using the “travel issue” option. It shouldn’t have worked because it was 5 days prior to her reservation, and the travel issue is supposed to only kick in after a guest has arrived on location.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I’ve been looking at Airbnb’s website and can’t find anything similar.

Yes, sometimes one needs to be quick on the draw. And unfortunately pretty much all Airbnb information is server-side, so it can easily disappear from under you. And I think from Airbnb’s POV this is a feature, not a bug. So don’t expect changes anytime soon.

At that point you’d gotten paid, right? So did you get to keep the money but the whole thing disappeared? I really try not to be conspiracy theorist, but sometimes the weird things that happen around politicians freak me out.

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