Offer direct booking using AirBnb messaging?

A guest cancelled an hour before arrival due to a family accident. I have waited several days, in consideration of the situation, but, because we had pleasant correspondence about the special weekend he planned for his wife, am inspired to offer them a future discounted, direct booking.

The problem is I can’t find his phone number on the site now, and assume it’s because he’s no longer booked. Can I message him on the platform with this offer or will an alarm go off and my computer blow up?

You must record every guest’s number by whatever method you use as soon as they book. We’ve had multiple posts about that so, honestly, I’m a little surprised you haven’t seen that advice.

I wouldn’t. I’ve never attempted it but if you do, let us know what happens.


Thanks, I never paid attention to that - thinking they were all still there🙄

And, no - don’t want to take that chance.


1 Like

Years ago I was chastised for hinting that I would interact with a guest outside of Airbnb. I get the phone number and text, call or email. In the US when I have wanted to contact someone but didn’t have the number, I have had pretty good luck with finding them in the Whitepages online. A name and a city are usually enough unless they have a common name.

1 Like

Into smithereens.

But remember that you should always make a note of you’re guests’ details as soon as you get the booking. I have details of each guest in a password protected section of a website and on my phone and in a book (and that book is kept in the safe because I’m too careful for my own good. :wink: )

Personally I wouldn’t offer a discount just because he was a nice bloke. If he booked directly, he’d be saving the Airbnb fees anyway so that should be enough.


Great info as always! :pray:

1 Like

If you really feel badly & really want to cut him a break, you can tell him (via AirBNB) to message you when he wishes to travel again and you can see if you’re able to make him a special offer (via AirBnB). Yes, you’ll still pay your fees and he his, but you may feel better (as I assume you kept his payout or some portion of it? Which you’re entitled to do…no judgement there)

1 Like

I just checked and if it’s only been a week or two, you can still access their phone number.

Log into your account and then go to and when you check on the reservation there will be a phone number.

It only shows up in the last three bookings and the the rest dont’ have it.

I too download a pdf of the booking reservation of EVERY guest when they first book.

1 Like

You can be kicked off the platform for a violation of terms of service. However I’ve done it a couple times in 6 years and gotten away with it. If the guest reports you for soliciting payment off platform it’s over.

You may can slide by if you message guest via Airbnb platform and say something like, “I’m sure your cancellation circumstances were difficult. When you are ready, I would welcome you to book with a discounted rate. Submit a request to book via Airbnb. I will then send you the discounted information.”

Offer them a 10% discount via “special offer”. They accept. Now you’ve got their contact info. You can contact them directly & offer a direct booking rate. Remember 48 hours free cancellation after booking. They can now cancel & book directly.

Complicated. And if the guest doesn’t regularly check email or Airbnb they may miss it.

Point being I think you can do it but be careful.

I am so surprised that so few people do this. Our cancellation policy is strict on AirBnB and 100% up to 60 days prior to check in on Vrbo, so almost everyone could cancel on the OTA and rebook with us directly and save a good amount of money (our Christmas booking paid over $700 in service fees).

I send everyone our website link after they book (it has lots of planning information), and NO one has contacted me after booking to ask the direct-booking rate for their dates and if they could book with us directly. I won’t suggest they do that as I suspect a string of cancellations shortly after booking would be suspicious to AirBnB/Vrbo, but I would have thought that more people would at least ask about it.

And the really crazy part? You can buy real travel insurance, usually even cancel-for-any-reason insurance, for about the same price as the service fee.


I’ve wondered about it too. I think fear of scammers keeps people on the platform. My direct bookings are usually people who booked through Airbnb & stayed one time so they know It is my listing.

When I booked my trip to Costa Rica, I booked on VRBO even though it was easy to find the real estate management company online to contact directly. Even as an Airbnb host I was afraid to send $5k+ to some office in a foreign country. I feared getting there and running into some problem and not having a place to stay. And though trip insurance could reimburse me, it wouldn’t solve my problem of 8 people in a small Costa Rican town with no place to stay.

I was an Airbnb host at the time and active on the forum so I suppose I should have been more confident. Even now I don’t know that I’d book direct for a place that expensive.

1 Like

Not to belittle your fear, but would Vrbo or AirBnB be any more successful in finding you a place to stay?

1 Like

I had a woman call me once before booking when phone numbers were still published and say “Thank goodness! You sound like a woman from the Midwest [which I am]. I was afraid you would be Indian and this would be a scam”.


I have a friend who was at an Airbnb in Paris and they got locked out of their apartment. The owner claimed to not have a spare key and Airbnb paid for a very nice hotel. That always sticks in my mind since I know that couple personally despite all the anonymous horror stories posted here. I feel like Airbnb and VRBO are internationally known corporations compared to Dominical Real Estate Management Inc.

Let me make clear that I would definitely book directly with that company now but at the time (2017) going through VRBO seemed prudent.

In any case, my anecdote was meant to offer a possible explanation of why people choose to book on a platform rather than a defense of VRBO. Fears are often irrational.

1 Like

You must have before Airbnb. Just use your best credit card. Visa or Mastercard are going to be more helpful than Airbnb anyway. And they’ll even be nice. And efficient. And effective. And sympathetic.

Many years ago, I took a flight to NY, on my own as I tended to do every summer for a long time. A friend of mine was working for Hyatt in Austin and hooked me up with a suite at a discount at the Hyatt Grand Central. When I got out of the cab, I left my purse in it. It had all my money, credit cards, ID and even my passport (talk about identity theft :joy: )

I hadn’t noticed yet when I checked in, it was a zoo and they had already taken my CC number when I reserved so they just handed me a key to my room. And they were extra nice because I had a suite. Once I was in the room I realized I didn’t have my purse. So I promptly called and cancelled all my credit cards. The guy at Mastercard was so nice and so sympathetic. I’m sure I was crying. And was planning on going to a baseball game and was upset about having to miss it. I had no cash, nothing and even my metro card was in the purse too.

This guy was so calm and like, “okay where are you?”. And then “alright, there’s a Western Union four blocks away, we’re sending cash there for you now and then you’ll have a new card first thing in the morning. Pick up your cash and go to the game. Call us back if you need anything else”.

I went and picked up the cash, they had arranged a passcode since I didn’t have an ID. But then I went back to the hotel to get my hat and there was huge lock on the door of my room. It was a little bit like those things people use to put on their steering wheels for security, but shiny brass and bulkier. Of course the hallway seemed to immediately fill with people who gawked at it and me. The Hyatt had run my card and it came back cancelled or as they interpreted it, “stolen”. There was no talking to these people, they could not understand what happened for some reason and threatened to have me wait with security while they called the police. It was a bad day.

They wouldn’t even let me get my stuff from the room. I walked out, crying of course and so confused. I didn’t know what to do so I called Mastercard back (why not). I ended up talking to a different person but in the same department and she said she’d take care of it, presumably by giving the Hyatt a call, and then asked if I’d like for her to get me a different hotel. I told her my price range and went to the baseball game. When I got back to the Hyatt, there was a wine and cheese tray in my room and a message from MC with my new hotel information. Which is, incidentally, how I discovered and got hooked on boutique hotels.

I see your point. What do people think happened before Airbnb? That no one booked a place to stay? It’s crazy. The number of people screwed out of accommodations has only increased with Airbnb, not the other way around.

Pre Airbnb I stayed in places in Europe that I booked online or by phone. Pre internet I honestly don’t remember how I booked a place in Europe. I think I waited until I got there and used a calling card. And I know I got all my info from annual travel books by Rick Steves. In my case in Costa Rica, the salient point was five thousand dollars.

When I booked in Boston two years later we also booked via Airbnb at $6k+. That host only lists on rental platforms, he doesn’t have his own website. When we do our next group vacation I promise to book off platform if possible. Your reminder about the credit cards is a good one.

I have another suggestion of why people don’t book directly. Finding a place can be a lot of work. Hours are spent looking and then if you find a place and then go to see if they are available directly it’s another step. Also Airbnb offers the option to pay half now and half later so maybe that’s a factor for some folks.

1 Like

I offer that on my direct book website, 1/2 now and 1/2 30 days prior to check in.



One of the things that makes booking STR’s so time consuming is that every host is different.

1 Like

Yes, we are all different. I have had good luck with my direct bookings, the first year or so barely anything, but enough to pay for my Google PPC ads. Now I get them fairly regularly, most of my repeat guests are direct book as well. I have a check in today, direct book and its his third or fourth time. First time on AirBnb then direct every time since.