Same-Day Bookings Getting Cancelled Right Before Check-in

Part rant, part advice-seeking

How do ppl handle these? We’ve been getting a few lately. I offer a full refund just bc I’m a sap. About 20% of our bookings are same-day, so I don’t want to restrict to day-before booking. Even after guests who have cancelled on the day of check-in, someone else ends up booking (and sometimes cancelling) the same room.

And what’s up with ppl booking our place and then realizing an hour before check-in we’re too far away? Does anyone look at a map anymore? I know Massachusetts might look small on a map, but we’re nowhere near Boston or the Cape, nor do we pretend to be.

Change your refund policy to moderate. It’s flexible enough that if someone realizes they made a mistake they can cancel up to five days before check in and get a full refund. Then, if they cancel an hour before you don’t have to give them the full refund.


I would fully agree. The person reserving only to cancel shortly thereafter could be denying you the advertising space to secure another booking.

It’s because these guests understand Airbnb rules so they probably book a few places (under different people names) that are fully refundable. I have strict cancellation and have never had this issue.


I’m a bit confused by what others are writing: Not even with Flexible Cancelations would guests be entitled to a full refund for a same day cancellation on the day of checkin. I understand you are a total sap :stuck_out_tongue:, but really WHY? Just don’t do it, at least take a cut for your time.


The challenge with that is we get a lot of bookings within 5 days off check-in. I’d say most of our bookings are quite last-minute.

I’m balancing my over willingness to be understanding. If this was our livelihood I might not be so willing to refund ppl. It’s just annoying. I guess it just goes with the territory of hospitality.

But what happens exactly? They cancel and then start nagging to get their money back? Or do they first start discussing before cancelling? Or do you just refund regardless of any extra communication to get their money back?
Or are there other cancelation policies where you are? What I find is, that they will have to pay the first night of their stay, if they cancel less than 24 hours before checkin.


What we do is if people book within five days, we give them one day to cancel penalty free. If they leave the booking more than 24 hours we do not refund.

There’s really not much time for conversation and nagging. To their credit, they don’t seem to be nagging at all. Even one guest sounded a little put-off when I called (rather then text back and forth) to clarify the situation. I didn’t realize I was inconveniencing him.

Instant Booking A was made 4 days before check-in. Day before booking A, I sent her a message to check in with her on arrive the next day. About midday of the day of check-in, she messaged me to say she’s not coming due to reasons I agreed were out of control. As with most days, we get same-days bookings, so I offered her a full refund and waited for a second booking.

Instant Booking B was made, indicating “I’m curebtly (sic) staying at an air b&b in Somerville, but it is not a safe place for me.” I politely informed her we were not very close, but welcomed her anyway. A few minutes later she somehow realized where we lived (some 45 miles away), and promptly wanted to cancel. To which I acquiesced.

With both bookings A & B, I informed them they needed to cancel lest I risk 2 years of Super Host Status.

Instant Booking C was made at approx. 4:45pm on check-in, and about 2 hours later they somehow realized their relative proximity to us (about 60 miles away). I’m not sure if they all missed their geography lesson on grade school that day, but people really do have a false sense of distance on their tiny smartphones.

Of course, now I am left with 3 pending reviews. I assume they are, too, but I just let the 14 days expire. We utilize the Flexible cancellation policy (, but rarely charge the one night if we get a reasonable request to cancel last-minute. We have a few times, and sometimes guests leave early, so it’s a wash.

I’ve never understood the advantage to me for the “flexible” option. Strict and sticking to it. If reasonable changes need to be made it’s understood.

I can only see refunding IF you receive a replacement booking paying the same amount. Otherwise, I would stick with the flexible policy (no refund if they cancel less than a full day prior to check in). I personally wouldn’t have a flexible cancellation policy, but it sounds like most of the time it is working for you.

I wouldn’t offer to refund any of these people. I would change my cancellation policy to at least Moderate.

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I think one of the problems is that …well, when looking for an Airbnb one gets that nice list of similar priced Airbnb’s …but they could be somewhere totally different like a 45 min drive away …or in a different country altogether.

Now Airbnb is doing same crap with the experiences and quite understandably not all guests figure out this out.

I annoys me. I occasionally do a wildcard search for ‘Scotland’ to see what’s available for specific dates as we’re flexible on where to go. Airbnb routinely shows me listings in Northern Ireland - only at least an extra 2 hours ferry ride each way (typical cost £250 return) away.

I’ve been complaining for months now of Airbnb thinking I live in Juarez, MEXICO. I live in El Paso, USA. Given the need to have a passport or passport card with you to cross back from Mexico, it’s an important distinction. It also factors Juarez prices in to El Paso prices giving us those ridiculous “someone booked a room at xx less” messages. Thankfully I know to ignore them but some new, hapless host is no doubt being suckered.

I’ve had guests both mistakenly book my place when they wanted to stay in Las Cruces NM (50 miles away) and cancel on me because they thought they had booked in Las Cruces.

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Okay, you trump my gripe with that one @KKC. It might actually be helpful for them to distinguish borders with such implications. At least mine is the same country.

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I hadn’t thought of that, but that makes total sense now. We use Airbnb almost exclusively when we travel, and I’m keen to check a host’s location, usually for public transport access. I actually don’t like Airbnb’s suggests because they can be way off course. We’ve had other bookings in which people arrived only to find out our location isn’t at all where they expected. (Luckily they didn’t give is fewer than 5 stars for location, since this is something I have zero control over.) I did offer one guest the option to cancel for a refund after they arrived so they could book something closer to where they were going, but she was willing to make the 1.5-hour journey back. (She gave us a great review, too!)

El Paso is geographically unique in that we are right on the border with Mexico and bordered on another side by New Mexico. I’m imaginging Airbnb in Soviet era Berlin and not being able to distinguish between East and West Berlin.

@KKC Yeah, I was familiar with El Paso’s geography (borders are a geeky interest of mine). I find border towns like yours intriguing and I’d happily watch a ‘Border Control’ type TV programme occasionally. I watched a better show that had US citizens living in Tijuana but going to school or work in San Diego. 3-4 hours some day for the return trip!

I’m just back from a trip to Berlin and loved the east/west contrast in the city!

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It’s not just being close to a border and on AirBnB. I searched for a place in Munich, Germany and HomeAway gave me Salzburg, Austria. 90 minute drive or train ride away.
Their reasoning (directly from the mouth of their CEO) is that they didn’t have enough listings to show me in Munich so they expanded the search to “help” me.

They helped me all right - I went to AirBnB to book.