Proactively asking guests if they're still coming

Much of my Spring business is people attending college graduations and doing college tours, along with attending local conferences/conventions. Since none of that is going to happen, I sent the following out to all my booked guests through the end of May. Assuming most of them cancel I can reassess how to use the apartment to at least bring in some sort of revenue, although I clearly won’t be making the same money. Had some luck lately with people renovating their homes that need someplace else to stay for a while, but they don’t tend to look at Airbnb or VRBO for those types of accommodations and would be scared off by the nightly rate.


We are contacting all of our guests scheduled to stay with us in the near future to confirm their travel plans. We understand that the current situation has created a lot of upheaval and uncertainty for everyone.

If you now know you are no longer planning to stay with us, we ask that you please cancel your reservation as soon as possible. If you are still planning to come, we would appreciate a message confirming that.

This information is very much appreciated and will allow us to plan accordingly. Thank you for your time and stay well!


Let us know the response. I’d assume that many people still can’t tell you. I had a cancellation yesterday afternoon for a dog boarding job that was supposed to start last night. Yesterday Rage Against the Machine had a concert scheduled here at the end of the month. Today they don’t.

What about proactively asking guests to not come, to push off their plans for 90 days? We’re considering closing until May-June. And then reassess. We’d cancel and offer credit for a future stay. Perhaps simply transfer all reservations to 2021 as this year may be too disrupted. Anyone thinking of doing this?

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I like this. I’ve been sending a similar message just poking and inquiring, but also hopefully reassuring.

Some people have cancelled, some have been unresponsive, and some have been communicative about their current and future concerns.

I’m interested to see how your guests respond.

I think it’s great.

Most of my guests are getting in touch with me and trying to find out the refund policy and letting me know they are considering cancelling. At that point, I know I am expecting a cancellation but I don’t have the days back to rebook. I don’t think anyone is going to rebook anyway. Most of these trips are in the next 4-weeks. I am not going to take any new bookings for a while. it’s not worth it to me to do all the prep for cancellations. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. No one is going to travel by plane until this is over. I don’t even want to commit to future dates at the moment.

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I think I’m going to do this too. I’d honestly like to take a break for a while. I don’t want to be hosting infected people and then I’ll get it and spread it on.

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So far, one rescheduled for July (college tour), one cancelled but hopes to reschedule for the summer (another college tour), and two more not interested in traveling right now. One for late May says they’re still coming.

Before I sent this I’d already had our Boston Marathon guests cancel (biggest weekend of the year for rental rates) and another party visiting their kid in college (who’s no longer there since the college closed for the year).

Down to four total booked nights now thru the end of April.

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Why force people to decide as soon as possible? Things are changing day by day – no point in rushing the decision. I run a rental on Hawai’i’s Big Island and we’re just taking it day by day. For example, my next group was 8 people from Germany. Five already were on island before the travel ban, three can’t make it. I just discounted their stay by 3/8ths. Another family in Oregon is weighing whether they still feel ok traveling with their 70 yr old mom or no – they might cancel altogether if things get bad, or they might leave mom and home and travel with just the youngest and healthiest members of the family. Rushing the decision doesn’t help anyone.

I’m pretty frustrated with Airbnb pulling a switcheroo on us and offering ‘full refunds’ to anyone with travel in those dates and bypassing our policies entirely – regardless of where we are or where the guest is coming from. There are plenty of alternatives that would more fairly distribute the burden here and let us all keep the people we employ paid during this crisis – for example, 50% refund (we all share the burden), or refund of all but cleaning fee if host commits to keep paying cleaning staff. Lots of alternative ways to handle this and be fair to everyone without putting 100% of the burden on us.

PS: this is going to absolutely flatten the working class of Hawai’i – I would love to see Airbnb exploring ways to help spread the burden so we can all keep everyone paid. I’m a single mom and still paying my house-manager / housekeeper whether she’s going to be working or not because, hey, she’s a single mom too – but that will get harder and harder to do with zero income coming in. None of us ‘caused’ this and no one is at fault. For example, if someone is canceling why not give them the option to accept a future stay instead of a refund so we can pay mortgages and staff. Or give them the option to accept a refund but still pay a cleaning fee to the housekeeper who will now be losing her income when she’s the person least able to recover from the loss?

Would you accept that? I certainly wouldn’t if I had to cancel.

It’s a shame for the housekeeper, but there are folks all over the world losing money due to this situation. Being frank, your housekeeper would not be high on my priority list if I was cancelling a trip.


John – I’m happy to report that every single cancelling family to whom I have given full refunds but asked if they’d mind still paying / donating the $300 cleaning fee so I can pass that money through to cleaning staff has not only said ‘yes’ – they’ve said yes with enthusiasm. Moments like this can bring out the best or the worst in people – and, so far, I’m consistently seeing the best. I’m still paying staff whether we have reservations or not for as long as I can swing it (not sure how long that will be with zero income coming in from the rental and a mortgage to pay but I’m doing it anyway – just like I’m still paying my gym membership for the gym I can’t go to at the moment because it’s owned by a really great individual whose business will go under if I don’t.

Now, that might be because people who stay with me are paying $600 a night to do so – so $300 is pretty small percentage of what they’d originally intended to pay. They can afford to help. But my point is that Airbnb could have (and should have) offered a more nuanced way to spread the pain of this event vs. just flat out overriding our contract with them and our cancellation policies.

I just sent messages to all 5 of my remaining reservations. 3 of them should be covered by Airbnb’s expanded extenuating circumstances policy and 2 of them are not (after April 14). I just reminded them of all of the policies and deadlines so they know the financial impacts of their decision to cancel. I also told them I understand if they need to cancel but I am committed to hosting them if they come. We’ll see what happens.

I sent messages to my upcoming guests. I have only had one cancel.

The rest may cancel later - I am sure they are waiting to see what will happen, just as we all are.

Our just last night guests were considering cancelling, but they decided to come out here anyway, even though it was rainy. They really enjoyed their stay.

We have a guest coming from Australia, (4-20-2020) not sure if I should ask her yet if she is still coming.

No bookings right now from Air, all (5) on Glamping Hub… 1 cancel so far. GH policy is as official guidelines/restricted travel/ and 1 week guest gets full refund if guest mentions fear of Corona.

Waiting it out, I think we will be enjoying the hideaway ourselves a little bit:) I’m hoping the metal supply store and the Lowes are both open tomorrow… we’ve got many projects!!

And even if they rebook for six months from now, WE don’t get that money until after they check in. Doesn’t help us with our bills now when the cash isn’t coming in.

I only have one booking at the moment, for April 5. She’ll be flying from SF to Mexico. I was planning on messaging her in a week or so to see what she’s thinking about it now. I’ll refund her in full if she wants to cancel, as I’m not dependent on hosting money, but I don’t want to end up putting time into cleaning the space if she’s going to end up cancelling last minute. (I won’t have to do an over-the-top sterilizing before she comes, as there haven’t been any guests in there for a couple of weeks) I’m not sure how I feel about someone who’s travelled through 2 airports and sat on a plane with other passengers in my home-share room, but if she still wants to come, I’ll just take serious precautions and advise her on what I’d like her to do so we both stay safe.

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