Last Minute Booking, Quick Cancellation

Hello everyone. On March 1, 2019 I began renting a one bedroom ‘guest suite’. It is an attached ‘mother in law’ unit in the lower level of my two story.

Cancellations is the topic of the day. I had a ten day open window at the end of the month going into the first week of September, I was getting a bit anxious but have found that a number of our bookings occurred within two weeks of check-in.

A bit after noon today, I get an inquiry for the entire period, less a day on either end, Ideal! An active 60s couple, a number of good reviews, all sounded good. So I pre-approve, answered a couple questions, and shortly thereafter they book the eight nights.

Four hours later, I’m asked by the guest/canceler if I’ll refund the entire fee. I have the cancellation setting at MODERATE. A few direct messages are exchanged and I suggested that she actually CANCEL if that is her intent. Then she asks for the full refund again, I suggest she talk to AirBnB as ‘payments/refunds are out of my control’.

AirBnB messages me. I suggest that they call me at the number I provide. An hour later, while my listing is still NOT AVAILABLE to be booked, I get the call. We talk, I ask the specifics of what MODERATE means in this case.

One thing I am told is that the canceler had not cancelled their flights yet, awaiting my answer. That seemed odd.

At the end of the discussion, I feel bad for the traveler but will feel worse when 25% of a month might not book and ask that the stated policy be adhered to.

I suggest if we book the bulk of that eight days, I’d ask that the funds the cancelling guest lost be refunded to her.

The CSR of Air contacted the canceler and I guess something happened because the (now) guest decided to keep the reservation.

How would you have handled this? Was I too ‘by the rules’ or should people honor their commitments?

I know others here would not but I would have told them to cancel and get the partial refund then manually refund the rest.

I am not desperate for the booking money and my listing would only have been unavailable for just 4 hours. Plus I would not have guests staying because they effectively have been forced into staying somewhere when they really didn’t want to. Thirdly you now have the possibility of your first review being a bad one from a disgruntled guest while had you walked away from the booking (as long as it was more than 24 hours from the booking start time) they would not have been able to leave you a review.

Ultimately it’s whatever works for you though, advise here will swing both ways and to both extremes so be prepared. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Sometimes it just makes sense to cancel. Now you’ll have guests who may put any frustration into their review

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Nothing wrong with going by the book, IMHO. Letting Air handle things was right – that’s what they get their service fees for, they might as well work for them.

I turned down a $700 booking for this coming February, because it was a 2-visit new guest who tells me he wants to book the week for his parents who will be snowbirding. I politely explained that I was declining his booking because it was third-party and I didn’t want either one of us to “get into trouble” with Airbnb. Told him to make a separate account for his parents and they can book through that.


I think you handled it correctly. While other hosts may think it’s good business to refund, It also hurts other hosts who do rely on the income. We are bound by the policies we accept as hosts and IMHO guests should be too.


Honoring commitments is one value. Honesty, fairness, and transparency are others. Based on what you’ve posted I suspect I would have refunded the full amount contingent on a rebooking if she had followed through on cancellation immediately.

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My concern would be that they had to keep the reservation and now they might provide a negative review. Make sure everything is picture perfect at the bedroom suite. The day of check in send a welcome message and ask if everthing meets their expectations. Hopefully, they will respond that everything is great. If they write a bad review, you can write a rebutal and reference their response to your welcome message.


Just wanted to point out how badly Airbnb is screwing hosts with the behavior of asking the host to voluntarily refund a cancellation.

The reason they want to refund the guest even though they are not obligated is to extend goodwill to the guest. It seems like an honorable thing to do, but looking at it from a business perspective, the real purpose of the goodwill is to improve the image of the Airbnb brand to the guest so they’ll be a repeat customer and/or spread Airbnb “goodness”. If you look at the money they are using, about 15% belongs to Airbnb and 85% belongs to the host, or over 5x the burden on the host. In terms of total revenue, it’s over 100,000x more burden on the average host. But the chances of that goodwill making guest a repeat customer of the host compared to being a repeat customer of Airbnb are also very tiny.

You can argue that Airbnb’s brand image helps all hosts, but the extent that it helps this one host is negligible considering the disproportionate cost.

What Airbnb should do is to automatically refund any of the hosts’ re-booked nights to guests that cancelled and if they ever want to provide full refunds to guests for goodwill, it should come out of their own pockets and in those cases, the refund for re-booked nights can go back to Airbnb.


Were there extenuating circumstances that had them canceling the booking and the flights? I would have canceled them and let Air deal with refunding them out of Air’s end, not mine. I’ve actually had that happen - new guest 0 reviews booked 2 weeks out; day of 4pm check in says the other person is staying at the other house (birthday party in the neighborhood) and could he swing by for a dip in the pool (no, not a flop house) but he’ll be staying at the other house. I called Air, said I wasn’t comfortable with this guy who “just wanted to swing by to use the pool and maybe stay at the house.” Air refunded him at Air’s expense after I worked my way up the CS chain. I also pointed out that at this point a man who had no reviews and could possibly be a scammer now had my address.

I didn’t want him in my home (shared space), and I wasn’t happy he had my address.

If cancellation occurs within 7 days of booking. No refund. They cancel. I have called Air when a guest states in message that want to cancel, but have not within 12 hours. I have gotten the booking cancelled by showing the message stream to them. No penalties, no refund.

In my case I see about 70-76% and Airbnb gets 13-15% and govt gets 11-15%.

We had our very first cancellation (in 4 years!) which was within our Moderate policy this week. The French guest wrote and just said that he was sorry and “something” had come up and they weren’t able to come. I was thrilled to get a few free days and some of the cash!

I knew it was highly unlikely I’d be able to book the nights at that notice, so I wrote back and said that I was very sorry, hoped it was nothing serious and though I couldn’t refund him the total because I wouldn’t be able to re-let the rooms I’d be happy to give him a discount if he wanted to book in future. Then he replied, thanked me effusively for my kindness, said he didn’t expect a refund and that in fact the “something” that caused the cancellation was a new business opportunity at his company that was going to prove very profitable!

I’m so glad I didn’t listen to Airbnb and refund the whole lot! Still waiting for the flowers from Jean-Paul though …

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If a guest cancelled just a few hours after booked, then I’d be happy for them to get a refund. I haven’t had many cancellations but I’d rather refund than have an unhappy guest staying here.

Because the booking left a couple of vacant days at each side, the cancellation now gives the opportunity for it to fill properly.

Thanks for everyone’s ideas. An update: The guest/canceler has decided that she is undecided. She is not sure what she wants to do and has withdrawn her decision to stay, but has not cancelled. I understand that she is taking the day to make her decision.

To recap, she booked, then wanted a refund and now is unsure.

Last week, a different booking did’t make payment to Air a few days prior to checking in. That took a day of uncertainty to resolve, add the current matter along with the great Air Support and my past week has been special!

I just got word from AirBnB CS;

‘Okay the guest has reached out to me. She informed me that she will be keeping her reservation with you as her final decision. I hope you have a wonderful day. I will now be closing this case.’

Once again, thank you.

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Honestly, that sounds like the guest found a different listing she thought she’d like better and Airbnb was actually helping her change her mind without penalty (at your expense).

Hard to say what her situation was.

I asked the Air CSR if cancellations were common, being that I had two ‘almost’ cancellations in a six day period, and she said "this is what I do all day long, deal with cancellations’. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

That sounds bad but keep in mind they get millions of bookings a year.

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And with the 48 hour free cancellation policy they now get a larger number of cancellations too.

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I suppose they do. In my experience I usually get a replacement booking and half the time it’s a better booking so I just don’t see the issue. But as I’ve repeatedly said, my business isn’t like many here.

We get a lot of posts when someone feels robbed by a cancellation. In this case someone was worried about the slate of open days in their calendar, then it got filled…flood of relief. Then the booker wanted to change their mind a few hours later. It seems to me that expecting someone to “honor their commitment” of a few hours and to get full payment for nothing is misplaced. It’s a psychological reaction. It’s like the time I got a call from the local radio station that I’d won a trip to Houston to see the Eurythmics but I had to call back in 15 minutes. I didn’t make the cutoff. I was wrecked. I wept for an hour. I raged. It was so unfair!

Just like we aren’t trip insurance for guests, guests aren’t income insurance for us. But almost no one comes here to post about the great cancellation and replacement booking they got.

Humans…can’t live with them, can’t live without them.