Host cancellation procedures

Hey, I’m building a little airbnb village on my large acreage. I’m not new to hosting, but new to doing it through airbnb and new to doing it for $$$$… I used to host through many different intern programs on my farm, so, a lot of things I have experience in but there is a lot for me to learn as well… PLEASE READ ENTIRE POST BEFORE RESPONDING…

My specific question is in regards to ME cancelling a stay. At least one of my structures will be a nice airstream camper. I already have one that will be stationary, but thinking of getting one that is also “road ready” for actual camping trips. I’m thinking of sharing it with my parents who are toying with the idea of having a camper, but won’t use it much, same with me, I WANT to have a camper, but won’t use it very often. Being able to rent it out when I’m NOT using it would definitely be more tempting to spend some money on one. However I want to be able to use it when I want to, sometimes at short notice. Is there an option that we as hosts can choose to enable that will allow me to cancel a stay within 2 weeks or less and not incur large penalties? Obviously this is something I would put front and center in the description so as not to blindside a guest, but, my life is a little more complex than most and planning a vacation is not something that is possible right now. Is there another venue that would be better for this particular listing, is there an option that I can engage on my airbnb listing, or is this an idea that I should abandon and reserve the camper just for our uses and our uses only since I won’t have very much lead time in cancelling? Again, this is something that if implemented would be front and center in the description.

Not that I’m aware of.

Though it’s nice that you would disclose that you might cancel with little notice, I don’t see how that would avoid Host penalties.

If you would know within a two-week timeframe (or some other short timeframe) whether you might want the camper, would it work for you to offer the rental only two weeks out – or some other timeframe for which you would commit to the rental? That would be the approach I’d take if I had your objectives.


There is no way for a host to cancel a reservation without penalties unless the reason for cancelling is accepted by Airbnb as an extenuating circumstamce, which personal use is not.

If there are times of the year when you or your folks definitely wouldn’t be using it, you could only leave those dates open on your calendar and block the rest.

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That is something I had wondered about as well… I do NOT have an airbnb account as of yet, so I do not know all these ins and outs of the site. How short of notice CAN I have as per bookings? 1 week out? 2 weeks out? As I hope I have conveyed, I fully understand the guest point of view of having a cancelled stay and want to make sure that’s fully addressed ahead of time, even if it means listing this stay with some other service or even listing it privately (my farm borders an expensive art school that does week long classes, so, I have a client base sort of built in)…. I get that most folks work a 9-5 job with vacations booked very far in advance, the rest of my listings would be suitable for that, but trying to figure out a way to get to use a camper when I want to and when I have time to do so, as well as it being able to generate a little $$$ to justify the purchase.

Further thinking…. I do KNOW for a fact that I would never want to go out on traditional american holidays due to the crowds, so…. I guess that is an option, only have the calendar open for traditional holidays……

You can have notice as short as you want.

So, yes, you can put your listing with dates available with just one day notice and as @muddy pointed out, just block all other dates.

Even if you could do that, I can’t imagine why any guest would book something that stated could be cancelled 2 weeks before arrival.

But another approach could be to only open bookable dates 1-2 weeks before any given date. This would entail you spending time making sure all other dates are blocked. So let’s say you put up the listing on Aug. 1st, because you know for sure you aren’t going want to use the camper until Aug. 15th. You block all dates after Aug. 15th. By Aug.10th, you decide you aren’t going to want to use it until Aug. 20th. So you unblock the dates from Aug. 15th to Aug. 20. You also would have to block the dates daily that open up at the end of your booking period.

3 months in advance is the shortest time period available to choose. So if you put up the listing on August1st, your calendar will have open dates until Oct.30, more or less. But on Aug. 2nd, Nov.1st will show as available, on Aug.3rd, Nov.2 will become available, and so on. So you would have to block the days that open up at the back end on a daily basis.


ok, that makes sense…. sounds like something that might be doable then…. Just pretty much block all the days for this listing except the ones I know I won’t use (such as traditional holidays) and then when I know I won’t be going out for a few weeks, I can “unblock” those dates…. Thank you, that’s great advice. Forgive my ignorance, I don’t have an account with airbnb yet, so I don’t know these things. Trying to get all my ducks in a row before I open to the public.


and yes, I agree, it would not be something that someone would want to book months out knowing full well that it could be cancelled… I’ll have other full time bookings on the property, but, sounds like I can maybe figure out a way to make this work but just “unblocking” dates rather than blocking them…. Be more of a last minute booking for folks that are looking to stay somewhere. I’ve also wondered about ‘hip camp’ and what kind of policies they have in regards to that.

Having all your ducks in a row before listing is definitely the intelligent thing to do.
Make sure you read all the articles for hosts on the Airbnb site, familiarize yourself with all their policies (cancellations, reviews, etc.) make sure you understand the difference between inquiries and requests. Then if you have any questions about any of it, ask here.

It’s probably a good idea not to use Instant Book with a remote property, as you’ll want to make sure guests have read everything in the description and don’t arrive with unreasonable expectations.

And yes, you should explore other sites like hipcamp that might be more suited to your camper rental. A friend of mine has run a small hostel for about 20 years. She only advertised on hostelling sites until a few years ago. Now I think she’s also on Airbnb, tried out, but got the worst guests ever, so kiboshed that one. But the hostel sites work best for her because they attract seasoned travelers used to staying in hostels, who have appropriate expectations and behavior.

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Good thinking!


I would never cancel on a guest because of last minute vacation plans. Seems so unfair to the guests. I have cancelled bookings but because of damage to the property from a hurricane or need to get property reinspected by the township. Seems like you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too.


Airbnb keeps its algorithm – which controls how visible a property is when a guest does a search – pretty close to the chest. As a general principle they reward what they consider is “good behaviour” by a host and punish what they consider “bad behaviour.”

Common “good behaviours” are a) recently deciding to become a host (hence the “newbie boost” in the search results) or earning SuperHost. Common “bad behaviours” include having low fiver-star ratings.

If I was in your situation I would operate on the educated-guess assumption that Airbnb would view repeated cancellings as bad for their brand, and this would lower my visibility when guests did a search. I would govern myself accordingly.

I am not sure whether any disfavour from Airbnb is listing-specific or host-specific – perhaps others in this forum would know if a host’s “bad” behaviour with one listing can taint sister listings operated by the same host… and it sounds like you are planning on setting up listings for several properties.

Frequent host cancellations would do worse than lowering visibility.

Such Host actions would violate Airbnb’s ground rules, eventually result in suspension, possibly removal.

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I don’t think he’s trying to do anything. He’s just exploring possibilities and asking for info at this point, as every new host should do. He did say he understands that it would be a big inconvenience to guests to get cancelled on. But by blocking dates he could make sure he has the flexibility to use the camper himself with a couple weeks notice.

It would actually be nice if Airbnb had the advance period calendar settings so they were fully customizable, like being able to set the calendar to only have open dates 2 weeks into the future instead of 3 months. I can understand why they don’t, as they want hosts to be available to host as much as possible, to be serious about hosting. Obviously they don’t really want hosts who don’t put money in their coffers.



But long before you crossed the “You’re fired!” line, you would (I expect) start losing visibility – possibly for all your listings, not just the Air Stream.

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The way you are carefully thinking things through and asking “What if…?” and reaching out to more experienced hosts for advice bodes well for your success with all this.


In terms of how Airbnb reacts to you cancelling, I don’t think this will make a whit of difference…

Unless your market is dominated by most last-minute bookings, you can’t really have your cake and eat it, too, like @Rolf said. Restricting bookings to a short time ahead (like two weeks) will probably reduce your occupancy. If you only want to book it a little bit every year, then that’s ok. But if you plan for the profit from the rentals to pay off the cost of the camper, it will be challenging to prioritize flexible use by you and your parents.

We have a retirement/vacation home in the Caribbean. We block off dates we are pretty sure we want to use it and open it up 6-12 months ahead of time. I set a revenue target for every month. Once we’ve hit it, we sometimes block off open dates for our own use even though it was not on the planned schedule.

I encourage you to leave at least a day between the scheduled return of the camper when you/your parent use it and the start of a booking. I don’t know whether the AirBnB CS rep would accept “My parents got stuck in a traffic jam last night and the camper isn’t back yet” as a justifiable incident for a no-penalty cancellation.