Instant Book cancellations

Help! I never used to use instant book because I live in my flat too and I need to be able to vet people first. But I got an email from Airnbn recently saying that the rules had been changed and I could cancel instant bookings if I needed to so I turned it on last week. Now I’ve just had someone book with a child when my flat isn’t suitable for children - she didn’t ask first - but when I try to cancel, I’m told I’ll be penalised 100 USD!! Anyone else had this? And how on earth do I find a number for airbnb to call them? Can’t find one anywhere. Guest is happy to cancel, just unwilling to do so herself as she will incur penalties (my cancellation penalty is strict).


On a computer, log in, go to your reservations, click print confirmation. The phone number should be in red half way down the page on the right. You should be able to have Airbnb cancel this because hopefully it violates either your description or house rules.

I wouldn’t cancel anything and I would let the guest cancel, and not be concerned with any consequences she receives.

I would not use one of the instant booking cancellation freebies on this type of guest. You will need to save those for when you really get a bad feeling about a guest.

I just google “airbnb phone number” and it pops right up.

Thanks guys, super helpful. I’ll follow your advice tomorrow when I’m up. I have to say, this has turned me right off Instant Book - again. It’s definitely more trouble than it’s worth for me.

This is so unfair. Why do they push IB on us with promises to address these concerns and then not have that feature totally fixed before it’s rolled out.

I don’t like being pressured into using IB.

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Imogenwall, please let us know how it turns out. Sometimes Airbnb is less than helpful at getting you out of these situations, and will make it your fault and press you to accept the guests anyway with threat of penalty. I’d say you’re in the safe here. Clearly the guest needs to cancel as you are not ticked ‘family friendly’, but Airbnb doesn’t exactly make it easy for people with kids to find this as its under amenities and you have to bring down a drop box. It’s becoming a real problem, constant requests from people with kids because they either don’t know how to search for appropriate places, or are trying to avoid it. Instant book is definitely not great if you are the kind of place that needs to make sure you have the right kind of guests booking.

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Thanks everyone. I told the guest she should cancel (it being her responsibility to notice/check that I don’t accept children). She actually called airbnb to do so and they looked at the message chain.I then got an email saying they had processed the cancellation as a regular host cancellation with all the punitive consequences that implies and said I was wrong to ask her to cancel. No mention of Instant Book.

I wrote back explainlng that she had made an unsuitable booking through Instant Book, which I had only turned on because of the change in the rules that meant I could cancel, and said I had clearly understood that I would be able to cancel Instant Bookings should they be unsuitable. This was what I got back:

“I’m sorry for the confusion about how Instant Booking works right now, but we are currently running an experiment that does change the behavior of it for some hosts. I did not see any flag on your profile that indicated you were a part of this experiment, but given the circumstances I will give you the benefit of the doubt.
I’ve approved waiving all penalties that were assessed when reservation N5KZE4 was cancelled. I’ve removed the automated review that was posted to your listing, I’ve cleared your calendar for the dates of the reservation, and I’ve also removed the Cancellation Fee that would have been imposed for the cancellation. You are also no longer recorded in our systems as the party responsible for cancelling the reservation, so there shouldn’t be any negative effects to your account as a result of this situation.
The reason that I cancelled the reservation on your behalf is that you confirmed in the Message Thread for your reservation that you were unable to host for Lucie. You also recommended that she cancel the reservation on her end, which is not something that we can allow. In the future if you receive an Instant Booked reservation that you do not feel that you can honor, you’ll need to cancel the reservation on your end”

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This “Instant Book” “Experiment” thing is news to me - does that mean some hosts are part of some kind of pilot and others are not? That sounds both problematic and confusing. I also don’t get why we can’t ask a guest not to book when they’ve made a reservation that clearly contravenes the terms of the booking. I won’t pursue further as I have everything I need now on this case. But I definitely won’t be using Instant Book again.

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Oh and I’ve now added a line about No Kids to my house rules - hopefully that will help.

Yes. Very important. People with kids know damn well that it makes them undesirable guests, so the will pull any trick they can to force their kids on you. Unless you say clearly that you do not host kids, you won’t have much of a leg to stand on when parents try to swindle you into dealing with their offspring at no extra charge. Leaving the family-friendly box unchecked is unfortunately not enough. Most young parents believe that reproducing makes them holy and entitled to get whatever they want. So, politely but clearly say no children. Oh…and good call turning off instant book. That’s for hosts who really don’t care what kind of psycho might wind up in their homes.

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I can’t understand Airbnb in this case. There is an option : children allowed. When you list your property if you did not check this option it means kids are not allowed. If a guest still books with a kid He/ she goes against the house rules. Instant book or not instant book , guest needs to cancel because it’s not host’s fault. It’s a totally different scenarium when a host “pushes” guest to cancell and it is host’s fault for not being able to keep reservation.
Instant book is not a green light to do whatever you want as a guest. There are still rules that need to be observed.

I am on IB and i don’t want phycos in my house but I can’t say by just looking at the picture if they are. Guests are all verified and they all are strangers. 80% of my guests are new to Airbnb. For the past week I had only 1 guest out of 5 who had reviews. The rest were total newbies. All of them booked the last minute using IB. And they were great.
The reason I started using IB bcs I started hosting during spring break and received all these inquires every 10 min. that I had to answer without people actually booking. I spent all day on a phone texting back. When I put IB on it all stopped and my phone went quiete. Since then I never turned it off and it’s been 8 months.
For me IB works very well. I clean room right away after guest leaves, I put keys in a secret place and even if I am not home, a guest can always accommodate himself without me.

I wish it were that simple. The item under ammenities actually says “family/kid friendly” and not “children allowed.” Very big difference. I’m willing to bet that when it comes to people traveling with small children that over half don’t even bother to read that far, and of those who do, they interpret it to mean that while you’re not necessarily rolling out the red stain master carpet for kids, you are still willing to tolerate them. Because, after all, parenting is the most important and beautiful job in the world, and we are all standing by to celebrate in the joy and beauty their loud and messy toddlers are bring us, right? Trust me: that’s how their minds work. You need to state explicitly in your rules “all guests must be 18 or older (and yes babies do count as guests)” or you have no cause to say a guest broke the rules by showing up with offspring in tow.

I disagree. Just because someone is verified does not mean that person and companions are a good fit for what you offer. Air pushes instant book on us, because it increases the rate of bookings across the board meaning they make more commission. By having conversations with guests prior to the booking, you save yourself a lot of headaches by weeding out people who have unrealistic expectations, are high maintenance (I.e., ask a lot of stupid questions about things that are clearly explained in your listing), or just give off a bad vibe. I remember when I first started I was overwhelmed by the volume of inquiries, so I raised my prices. Problem solved.

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Jackulas , isn’t it universal though? If the box for family/ kid friendly left unchecked then it means you CAN NOT bring children? don’t know how for anyone it can not be clear, if it’s not kid friendly ,you can still bring your kid. Of course , it’s better to extra word it and put another frase saying : we do not allow children, but what I was saying that Airbnb still has to be on host side when it comes to situations like was described here.
I think people who still bring their kids where there is no option do it on purpose, but not because they didnt pay attention or misinterpreted.
In my house I simply can not accept children because my house can be dangerous for small kids. All my friend’s small kids fell on my marble stairs, all of them without exclusion.
I was travelling with a small child plenty and this is the first thing I paid attention to if the place is suitable for children.

I am not saying that if someone is verified it means that the person will be a good guest. What I was saying is that everyone is verified, we do have their IDs.
So, this side of safety is taken care by Airbnb. But they all are still strangers to us. I was never “interviewed” over the 5 years that I traveled as a guest. Usually host and guest exchange 2 frases max and a guest gets preapproved, unless a guest initially is asking many questions. In my experience there is never any “conversation” prior to approval. It’s a short introduction consisting of a few words, and a guest can say whatever. Based on a few words I can not say anyway if this particular person will be a suitable guest or not.
May be I was lucky but out of almost 50 guests I had, and all of them booked using IB, almost all were pretty great. No one brought any kids or pets ever though one tried to bring a doggy.
Those with specific requirements ask questions anyway with IB or without.

I am not advocating IB, for each their own , I am just saying that I don’t have any reasons not to have IB. For me it works perfectly. My friend who accepts children and dogs doesnt use IB as peope with dogs and children usualy have different circumstances an d she needs to clarify many issues before hosting her guests.,in my case it’s all simple: no kids, no pets.

Raising prices in my case lead to empty house without any booking and loss of income. When I reduced my prices only 5$ I get bookings now almost everyday.

Hi Yana -

Thanks for that perspective on IB which so many hosts seem to despise.

When I joined ‘Air’ in 2012 to find a place in China while on an adoption journey, I gave a lot of detail about myself and 2 (now 3) kids. I figured that anyone considering renting to a family of 5 would want to know who we are.

My first booking request on air (before I even finished my listing) was a young kid from France without even a photo. I was stunned as I’d expected all guests to have been like me. My second was a host who had lots of reviews - and some of his guests found his place to be “Sordid!!”

Like Yana most - maybe 90%? - of my guests are new and some a clueless. Yet to date, thank God, all have been fine, and most, wonderful. It’s gotten to the point that I check my calendar, and approve if I can without even looking at their profile.

Here’s the thing - The bookings that have been most sketchy to me have been some of the best. In fact, one I seriously considered CANCELLING because her photo made her look STRANGE and her communication was scant at best. But where am I staying when I go to Philly next month? Yep, her place. Because it was an instant connection - I came home from work and her nephew (Chinese) was playing Chinese chess with my son (also Chinese) and they were talking a mile-a-minute in Chinese, while her son (14) was playing our piano like a prodigy. She came upstairs to meet me and then helped me look through new bedding I had just purchased and got interested in the choices.

The young French kid who booked first with no photo or anything? Best guest, so polite, took out the trash, wrote me a note later…

However, the Australians I connected with so well over email? Not horrible guests by any measure but very, very high maintenance.

So, I’m with Yana - I just don’t know how you can tell by a few emails who’s a good choice and who’s not - but it’s ‘to each his own for sure’. We’re all learning!

Any other hosts able to chime-in here? Spring Break is CRAZY here in DC and I anticipate a situation like Yana describes…

So… I don’t know… Now that we just invested in a ‘real’ insurance policy, and have decided to invest $15,000 improving the rental area, IB may be just the ticket. Because yes, first thing in the morning, I’m up and out of bed checking my phone since so many requests come in from the other side of the world between 1 and 6 a.m. I figure the sooner a host replies the more likely they will get the booking. And I know what it’s like for me - often if I’m planning a trip I’m ‘robbing’ time from another task, like sleeping, to get my research done - if I have a host reply quickly it makes the process SO much easier…


Exactly , during spring break all inquires came from Europe. With me being new j started panicking as I did not know if I would be overbooked if I replied to several of them in a short time. Then many did not book, and it would start all over again. I did not even know about IB at first just stumbled upon it and decided to try. And suddenly…silence… All is booked immediately and mad texting stopped😀. During first week of my hosting almost 200 people looked at my listing, this is how busy it was.

Thanks. I’m going to go now and amend my rules. I started out with “Act like you’re staying at your girlfriend’s parent’s house the first time, be respectful, clean-up after yourself, and be prepared to make new friends!”.

If I go with IB I need to be very specific, right?

Because my guests are staying with my family, including 3 kids, and they see that I home school AND work for my church, they get an idea of the atmosphere, and so far they’ve been very nice people - so the scant rules have been just fine. I did later add “Inside voices”. ; )

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The presence of children ought to be explicitly underscored by the platform – when you enter number of guests, there OUGHT to be a box asking about number of children and pets. The idea that guests ought to be hunting for a box that most don’t know exist is pretty absurd. The vast majority of people who book on Airbnb right now are newbies and are not familiar with the platform at all – they enter dates, guests, they sometimes know to check off shared or entire house, and then they start clicking on pictures.

Someone NOT clicking family friendly doesn’t always mean they don’t welcome children. I’ve stayed in plenty of places where there are high stairs, a balcony or terrace, a pool, etc. where hosts have warned me to closely supervise the kids because of the potential hazards of their space. They did not click family friendly because they felt their spaces required extra supervision with kids but they were happy to rent if people were well aware of this.

People who do not want children in their space absolutely ought to explicitly state this early on in the listing until AirBNB improves their platform.