Non-refundable guests requesting big alterations

Hi! Fairly new host here. I’m very confused about the point of Airbnb’s non-refundable policy. All my guests so far have booked non-refundable for the 10% discount. But I’ve currently got a guest who, after booking, has requested multiple date changes - he now wants to halve his booking from one week to three days, which would halve my income, fairly last minute. This seems a lose-lose situation as presumably if I decline the request he can leave me a bad review? Just wondering if there’s any way around this or if anyone has any experience dealing with this - thank you so much! Laura

this is tricky, when guests can’t show up and want to cancel then I never give any refund, but with the alteration request you know you will probably be getting a bad review if you don’t accept, I make decisions from case to case, for example if the guest has lots of good reviews then he might be paranoid of a bad one from me, so I decline a request for change, I sometimes check what kind of reviews they write to host, if they are vindictive, etc


The review is the stick that Airbnb and guests use to manage their hosts.
A new host is very, very vulnerable to a bad review and they tend to be compliant with guests requests… if you don’t think you will fill the nights, then I would allow the alteration, as some money is better than a dreadful review.
No - Airbnb do not defend their hosts or stand by their policies. It is like having shifting sand beneath your feet.


So I would just say no. I do have over 400 reviews so I don’t worry as much about getting dinged but it’s still frustrating.

I found out that the non-refundable discount option can be cancelled for extenuating circumstances and decided to stop offering it. What was the purpose of offering a non-refundable discounted option that could be changed or in your case altered?

In my house rules (yep - another one) I state that reservations may. not be altered but if they wish to add dates, I will send a special offer for a 2nd booking less cleaning fee.


I started out doing the non-refundable offering, because i wanted to be nice, giving a discount for solid bookings. turns out guests are NOT so honorable, and i had way too many who cancelled and still wanted a full refund. (it’s really a nice metaphor for society, you just can’t offer ‘nice’ rules cos the shitheads will ruin it). So i dropped it.


The non-refundable option seems like a really poor choice for hosts, since guests are happy about getting a 10% discount, but then suddenly and conveniently forget the meaning of non-refundable when they cancel.


Just say “I’m sorry, it’s against our policy for guests who take advantage of the 10% discount to lower their stay duration at such a late stage. If this isn’t convenient for you, please feel free to contact Airbnb to cancel your stay, I hope you find a great place to stay that perfectly suits your needs.”

And don’t worry about reviews.


We had the 10% option but set it aside when COVID began because… COVID.

When guests asking for a cancellation or change in spite of, we were often able to disarm them by saying something like.

"Our default booking arrangement would have provided you with the flexibility to [cancel/make changes] without penalty or restrictions. However, you deliberately declined our offer of a flexible reservation in exchange of a 10% discount, a modification that provided you with a $xxx saving .

Although we have no obligation to provide a refund for [changed dates/cancellations], we are willing to voluntarily offer you a conditional refund if we are able to find replacement guests for the nights you have booked with us. This is a goodwill gesture on our part – if you are willing to reciprocate that goodwill and accept our offer."

In other words: “Play nice and there’s at least a possibility of a refund…” – with the silent part “Be a dick, and we play by the rules you signed up for.” Once this message was delivered, they almost always played nice.

We had one guest who had to cancel [she later got an 80% refund], and her father jumped in (he’s also an Airbnb member, contacted us using HIS account) and started getting very abusive. We got Airbnb to block him, and when we finally got a replacement booking, we got back to the original guest and told her that our offer was based on goodwill, and her father’s bullying had voided the goodwill and the $$$offer, however if she apologized and acknowledged Dad had been inappropriate, her apology would restore the state of goodwill (and the offer to refund).


As others have pointed out, stop stressing about reviews. There is so much obnoxious and outrageous behavior that many hosts allow guests to get away with in terror of a bad review. Accepting inappropriate behavior is not worth it in the hopes that you will get a good review. More often than not, bad guests leave bad reviews regardless of how hosts handle a situation. Don’t allow guests to push you around.

Remember that you always have an opportunity to respond to a review which is misleading or outright false. So no need to stress about reviews that you haven’t even received yet.

As long as Airbnb maintains its attitude of pandering to guests by holding the fear of a bad review over hosts’ heads, the only way to to disabuse guests of a sense of entitlement is for hosts to stand firm in the face of unreasonable guest demands and behavior.


I wouldn’t refund, i wouldn’t demand an apology. I would say that involving her father to bully and threaten you was a breach of the agreement. I don’t give bullies a chance to fake apolgise and still get paid. They can learn a real life lesson.
but you do you.


Whether she meant it or not, she bent the knee, and that was enough for me. If it had been JUST the father, I would not have offered the chance for redemption

My own gut was that this 19-year-old was no stranger to her father’s bullying, and was actually embarrassed by him jumping in the way he did. (He had paid for the reservation.) My wife spent her entire teenage years being embarrassed by her cranky father, so we cut her a bit of slack.

We don’t even know if she saw his messages to us ahead of him clicking SEND. He was not jumping into her message thread, he used his own (long-standing) membership to reach out to us – initially by making a faux booking inquiry to open up the channel

I secretly hoped that at some point she got to throw this in his face “You were such an a-hole to my hosts that you almost cost us the refund… and we only got our money back because I had to apologize for you…Dad !”

1 Like

yikes. well, again, you do you.

Well we each have our own family baggage, but she clearly told her dad about the situation, and you’ve no clue if she sent him in purely cos she knows he’s a bully and often gets his way. Sometimes I will deploy my Sth African husband in this way, because he is tenacious, whereas I tend to back down easily.

Father was already involved – she was doing the traveling, but he had paid for airfare and for her mandatory 14-day post-flight quarantine (this was back then!) which she was going to do at our Airbnb. Although any refund would go to her Airbnb account, it would end up on his credit card, which had paid for the original reservation.

I got the feeling Dad – in his “wisdom” – decided daughter just wasn’t being hard-nosed enough in her request for a refund, and he jumped in “fix” that.

1 Like

She really had to – any refunds would go to him because he had paid

@Laurap - do you have a discount for a week? If so, this is a common trick - book for a week, get the discount, then alter the dates to shorter and hope the host forgets to increase the nightly rate. This guest is just taking advantage as much as possible - change dates despite the non-refundable discount AND reducing the stay.

I encourage you to think of alterations as a cancel and rebook. If they aren’t within the free cancellation window, they aren’t eligible for a free alteration, either.


Yes! Always! Gleefully!

1 Like

I have had a couple of such people. I politely declined the request citing that it will lead to a lower payout, and I have lost the opportunity to find another guest since the calendar was blocked. I have been lucky that the people who have made such a request haven’t left me a bad review, but if they did then I would request Airbnb to remove it on retaliatory grounds. I’m not sure if that would work but that’s something I’d love to see more data points on.


Thank you so much everyone for your responses! I had no idea they kept the 10% weekly discount if they alter their stay, that’s outrageous! AirBNB really hates its hosts, huh…

I don’t alter stays so I don’t know exactly how it works. I don’t know if you alter the cost manually or not when you alter the dates. But you have to be sure the new amount is what you want it to be and may have to override the default.

Some hotels offer this, which is the only reason I think AirBnB decided to offer it. It’s a lose-lose for hosts because the vast majority of guests do not cancel and do not request booking adjustments, in my experience. So why take a pay cut?

As a new host you’re vulnerable to bad reviews, as others have said. I would go along with the guest if I were you. They are likely to praise you if you cooperate.

In any start-up business (STR is my fourth business) you need to understand that you may lose some money at the outset, or will need a few months or even a year to start turning a profit.

STR is an unusual business in that in many cases, people can start reaping profit immediately, because their start-up costs have already been covered. But if you can possibly afford to take the long view I think that is better.