How strict is your cancellation policy?

I have 4 units listed on Airbnb and this is my 2nd year as a host. All of my listings are set to “Moderate” for cancellation policy. Lately I’ve been having a lot of guests cancel exactly 5 days before and in order for me to fill those dates, I have to drop my price a lot.

I’m contemplating switching to a “Strict” cancellation policy, but does this affect booking? Have any of you hosts had guests reach out asking for the full refund? I feel a little bad switching over to “Strict” since some guests cancel in advance and I don’t want them to be punished for the actions of bad guests.

I’ve always had strict. When I started my second unit, I was getting no bookings so went to moderate in the short term. I had about three cancellations in a row. So I thought f*ck it, I went back to strict and haven’t had a cancellation since. On my first place, I only had one last minute cancellation. Again, strict cancellation policies are way better.

I’m currently shopping for a place as a guest. I am eliminating all listings marked ‘strict’. Just, life happens, I have 3 kids and I know how unpredictable life can be.

however, I’ve never cancelled a reservation that I can recall, and would never do so frivolously.

My listing is set to flexible; however, my bookings are on avg 3 night bookings, and I get a lot of same day requests. If I had a place that people were booking a week at a time I would change it to strict. I think I will switch to moderate.

Since you’ve had problems, I would switch and see what happens.

I,wish we could have different policies for different length if bookings

I agree! I think the Strict policy is a bit extreme and I wish there was something in between. I just changed my cancellation policy to Strict so we’ll see what happens.

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I have always had strict and have always had bookings. I also always have had cleaning and security deposits. These things don’t scare off most guests.

Question: If you are on strict, and someone cancels, they get approximately 50% refund from AirBnB, would you return their ‘other’ 50% that you still would get. I am assuming one gets it, but not sure since never have had a cancellation.

Funny you should ask… About five minutes ago, someone with a three day reservation for next week canceled and sent a request (through the resolution center) to have the entire amount refunded. It was the usual story about an extenuating circumstance, illness in the family. I hate to be a hardass but I declined her request for the full refund. I’ve been played for a fool over the years and have lost thousands due to these stories. They get 50% back up to a week, and none back after that, except what you are willing to grant. They (Air) don’t refund their own portion and they take your cleaning fee back too. So I just said no. I have to pay tax myself on the remnants of the reservation and lose the cleaning fee. I can’t rebook it this late. It’s not like I am a hotel with lots of rooms to sell. So I’m hardly ahead.

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I’ve thought of taking the airline approach. If someone is legitimately sick and provides a note, offer them credit toward a future booking.

I teach post-secondary and if you know anything about the first essays of the semester, you’ll know that that’s when all the grannies die.

I’m not a hotel, and like Kona, I usually can’t rebook that close to the date, not unless I drop my prices by half, and then God who knows who I’ll get. So the last time this happened (well, I only had one cancellation), I asked for a death certificate and never heard back. I have a mortgage on the place, so no, I don’t see any reason why I should take a hit.


I know I’m always complaining about VRBO, but I have to say they have the worst tire-kickers ever. Of all the inquiries I get, only about 1 in 6 pans out. And, almost all of them either ask for a discount or imply that I am charging too much. (I have zero problems with bookings on Airbnb.) That amount of administrative work, for not a lot of income, is irritating. So when it comes to cancellations, having a moderate policy, I found, brought out the tire-kickers. Three cancellations in a row (for my more modest property) was enough to convince me that I’ll always stay with strict. I’m actually thinking of responding to VRBO users with something like, ‘I will let you know about a booking only after you write back and state that you agree with the price and that you are serious about booking’–and making it sound like a form letter so that they get the message.

My sense of VRBO users is that they send out blanket requests and then go with the best deal. I know it’s not a bad strategy, and I wish I could have a better attitude, but I’m tired of answering for so little return.

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Kona: Under those circumstances, I would definitely not refund them. A week before, even a month, no way. In this case it was 6 months, and the days will be filled in a few days anyway, so nothing lost, and of course I am refunding them.

Reeny: My sentiments exactly, the VRBO people just come across ‘different’; the AirBnB are just cool, and less nonsense. But here is one I been wondering about: If not mistaken AirBnB insist on everything paid up front right?; unless I am missing something, and VRBO it can be partial payments right? I wonder if that has a bearing, with AirBnB people, the fact they have to pay up front; does that tend to weed out the serious from the lukewarm types? I wonder.

I know Kona. I’ve written up a list of requirements that I’m going to send out as soon as i get an inquiry. I’m certain it will weed out 95% of them, but since so few actually book, I don’t think it’ll make much difference. I actually think about 1 in 12 book, not 1 in 6. The latter number, in hindsight, seemed a bit high!

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Interesting, what I am doing now is sending everyone that inquires (about 15 a day) an information sheet with the 13 most-commonly asked questions, in short 1-line form, and end with the statement:

“After you read this if you have any further questions do not hesitate to ask, we be happy to answer them”.

It has cut down dramatically with the chatter.

Reeny, are you serious!? Good grief. You really get these questions from time wasters? I think it’s the Air platform that cuts down on the time wasting. I think all your points are well expressed here and it should reduce the time wasters.

I can’t speak to VRBO and think I would really hate all the time wasting and questions. Also, these things telegraph the inexperienced traveler and are red flags.

Mearns, I feel the same. She did book about two weeks ago and now I really wonder if she found something better or cheaper or more interesting. Or whether her MIL is really in the hospital. I simply told her no, it’s too late for refunds, you’ve blocked off my calendar and now I cannot rebook. Sorry.

Kona, it’s worse than that: most of these people AREN’T newbies, they’re middled-aged and experienced, they just expect personalized service. There seems to be an attitude of “we’re doing you a favour here,” that is really clear and I have no idea where it comes from. I think that perhaps before Airbnb, maybe people like us did have problems booking our places, since there wasn’t a really centralized place for it. I do think that Airbnb is making things for difficult for them–a lot of them complain that I won’t book a year in advance, to which I say, I have no idea what the price will be then and I don’t want to lock myself in. That’s when the huffy comments about seasonal premiums get made.

One of the VRBO guests did the treating me like hotel staff thing over Thanksgiving and so when they asked for more toilet paper–on day 3, after I’d given them 5 double rolls for 3 people over 4 days–I lied and told them I was out of town. I was just upstairs, but was so fed up with them that I didn’t even care if they saw me. This was after I’d given them extra kitchen things so that they could hold a proper Thanksgiving with their relatives. I couldn’t wait to see the back of these people!

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“… 5 double rolls for 3 people over 4 days…” That right there tells one how insensitive and self-centered they are about the world around them or how ignorant; the reasons are really immaterial, the up shot is they are royal (fill in the blank).

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It’s the entitled mentality. They are used to staying at hotels wherein their every whim is catered. WE are not hotels, and these guests need to get that they can’t expect 24/7 staff to be waiting on them hand and foot. I think one of the pluses Air offers is that you have the chance to describe clearly what you want and don’t want and expect from guests.

I state in my house document that if they are going to be staying for more than a week or more they will need to buy their own paper products. I don’t supply paper towels because people waste them. Too expensive to provide and I am a budget place! Really… what on earth is someone doing with that much TP? Clogging your plumbing? If not, dammit and you are a TP hawg, go buy your own! :slightly_smiling:

I don’t book that far in advance either. I learned this the hard way when someone made a booking inquiry when I was newb and I was dumb enough to honor it and not notice that it was at my low season rate because I had not had the chance to update holiday pricing! arrrgggh.

If I were you, I’d start to fade off on VRBO. Word is they are going to roll out a guest fee of 6% this year and prevent direct communication between you and the guest, as well as put you on mandatory IB AND boot you off if you don’t book enough reservations to their satisfaction. @cabinhost knows more about this.

LOL!!! How funny

As I mentioned…here is the “great” news that was just posted on the VRBO board! Enjoy! (P.S.: of course it is spun to read as though this little fee will benefit YOU, the VRBO host! This should get both travelers and hosts just hopping right on over to Air! Mind you also, Book with Confidence is just another way of saying we are taking charge of the money now, while Best Match is a euphemism for “You will be sinking in the rankings due to a new algorithm we’re putting into place, and which has actually already started a couple of months ago, when long time VRBO owners suddenly found their booking plummeting for no discernible reason.”

FEE Starting in February???
Active Contributor
u0999 Jan 21, 2016 10:23 AM
Just got an email (your probably did too). Do I take it that traveler fee starts in Feb.

More travelers
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Now that we’re officially part of the Expedia family, we’ll begin working on new ways to put your vacation rental listings in front of the travelers who booked 188.2 million nights on Expedia’s 200+ sites around the world last year.*

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Starting in February, travelers who book or pay through VRBO’s checkout will enjoy increased peace of mind thanks to our new Book with Confidence Guarantee, including full payment protection from things such as fraud and misrepresentation, and 24/7 customer service.

Best match
We’ve invested heavily in our best match search system to quickly show travelers the properties that best suit their needs—which in turn means they’re more likely to book.
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To help support the initiatives above and to bring you more travelers and bookings throughout 2016, in February we’ll begin introducing a small service fee for travelers who book or pay through VRBO.
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