Hello! I am new to this site, so, even though I have gone through a significant amount of threads before posting this, I still not 100% sure I’m doing this right. I have found quite a few topics on issues similar to mine but none -as far as I could see- that truly applies to my case, so I would appreciate your input!
My family and I have only been hosting for a couple of years with zero problems so far, and we only get two or three bookings a year for our vacation home, so I have no prior experience with cancellations and refunds. This summer, we got two bookings a couple of months ago, which truly surprised us considering the pandemic, but we thought we’d accept them, thinking the guests must have thought through the risks and decided they were worth taking.
However, one of the guests who is scheduled to arrive in 9 days just messaged me saying that he wants to cancel and get a full refund because covid cases in my country (Greece) have been rising lately (of course they have, since it’s the peak of the tourist season here and the government insistently promoted the islands as safe destinations). He said that since the greek government are now taking restrictive measures, such as mask-wearing being obligatory for unvaccinated people, bars being closed after 1am etc, and since some people in their company are unvaccinated, they would no longer be able to do the “activities” they would like to do on the island so they decided not to come after all. They requested a full refund, while my policy is strict.
The reason why my policy has always been set to strict is because we manage the house ourselves. It’s a private home, not a business, and we do not live on the island during the year, which means that when a guest books, we book our own flights to get there, clean the house and get it in order and be there to welcome them, before flying back to Athens again. The strict policy has probably cost us a few bookings but it gives us a (false?) sense of security, so that we can arrange our work commitments in Athens and book our plane tickets in order to be there before each guest arrives and make sure the house is in order.
I understand that covid has created a lot of problems for hosts and guests alike and I’m all for understanding others when unforeseeable circumstances occur. We are also usually very accommodating to guests and not incredibly strict with the rest of our rules (check in/check out time etc since we are not professionals and we want to make guests feel welcome and comfortable). However, I feel reluctant to agree to a full refund in this case, since (from what I understand) his case does not fall within the extenuating circumstances airbnb has set as eligible for a full refund. Neither he or any of his co-travelers have contracted covid, nor is there an enforced lockdown or sudden travel restrictions in place. The only reason he has for cancelling is that basically his holidays aren’t going to be how they imagined them. (Frankly, I wonder how they thought partying in the middle of a pandemic in peak season in the single most touristy island of the country could work, but this was a risk they were clearly willing to take and this is why i am hesitant to be lenient with the refund).
Let me also add that we have already booked our tickets to the island in order to clean and arrange everything, and consequently made arrangements in our work commitments to accommodate that. It is also near impossible that these dates can get rebooked now.
The rest of my family tends to be much more accommodating and understanding with issues such as these, but I can’t help but think we /should/ be treating it as a business, at least to the extent that will allow us to protect ourselves from actually losing money instead of earning some.
How would you reply to this guest? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.