I actually don’t mind guests cancelling so long as they do it in a timely manner and are polite about it. Recently, this has not been the case. I’ve had 4 last minute cancellations in the past 2 months. All of them have either had no reason given or no response when I asked.
The most recent guy had the place booked 2 months ago and cancelled 2 days before. His reasoning? “I found a better place that was cheaper and closer”. This was a 3 night stay at $38 per night. All I could say in response was “I hope it works out.” There’s nothing else to say. It’s just so rude to call my space overpriced at $38 in addition to dropping out with little time to book another.
Before people start telling me that I should change it to Strict. I understand that this would eliminate the problem, but I’m afraid of sour guests who won’t cancel and just leave a pissy review. I’d rather just keep those kinds of guests out completely.
You attract the kind of guest who cancels last minute because you permit them to do it penalty free. If I had iffy plans, I wouldn’t book a place with a strict cancellation policy. Set the policy for what you consider a “timely manner”, i.e gives you ample time to rebook. I am not likely to rebook if someone cancels… I am barely likely to book. Strict is the only policy that makes sense for us.
I’ve always had strict since starting four years ago. Never had a sour guest who wouldn’t cancel because of the penalties @NE10
That’s the main reason I leave my cancellation policy set to flexible. Of course, I also factor in that AirBnB seems to refund guests generously at the drop of the hat. Since they do that, and seem to override hosts cancellation policies on a whim, what’s the use?
I got really burned this past Labor Day weekend (3 day holiday in US and a big travel weekend). All three places were booked. One house, guests cancelled several weeks ahead. That house got rebooked, then the rebooking canceled 2 days before the weekend and didn’t get booked again.
The other house, the guests cancelled a week ahead of the holiday. That place did not get rebooked either.
I offered a discount on both places but neither got rebooked so two of the three houses were not booked Labor Day weekend. OUCH!
It sounds like you have flexible? And you mentioned strict, but why not use moderate? At least the 5 days notice gives a chance to rebook and your cancellations (2 days before) would have lost money to cancel, meaning it wouldn’t be worth it. Like everything else, it depends on your listing and your market, but I use a moderate policy to give some flexibility to people but not so much that they look for last minute deals (a lot of hosts around me drop prices in those last few days).
And this is why flexible policy makes the host vulnerable to what other hosts do. If that property the guest would have booked, except it put him over budget, is suddenly slashed to equal or less my price, why wouldn’t the guest cancel and take the Tony Montana house?
For sure. I don’t understand using the Flexible policy but it must make sense for some folks because I know some use it but would definitely be a hassle in my market. Plus, I’d rather deal with people who can handle a modicum of commitment.
Exactly. I really hate it, but I would assume that this is an industry-wide issue.
But a Moderate Policy deters this because those price-droppers are usually in the last 5 days and with a Mod policy, the guest would lose money by cancelling.
I actually raise prices in the last week and that works out great, so go figure.
I switched to Moderate last month due to increasing issues. I agree that 5 days is totally fair, and plenty of time to re-book. I wish that Airbnb allowed custom cancellation windows. The sweet spot for me would be 50%/10 days.
My main vent is mostly about how rude guests can be. This last one got under my skin with his behavior. Really not much I can do.
That’s a perfect example of why hosts should never use flexible @Keugenia
As I mentioned I have always used strict because it encourages those who commit to their arrangements.
I have refunded guests who booked the wrong dates, agreed refunds to guests booking six months in advance and have recently offered a guest who cancelled further refunds if I rebook the days she cancels.
The difference is that is always my choice and I wouldn’t have to refund in the examples given in this thread for last minute cancellations because of a flexible policy @Keugenia @NE10.
Sounds like you dodged a bullet, you can be grateful for that! At least he didn’t come into your home and be rude there.
Really seems like a strict policy may benefit you. You could give it a try. I agree with what @Helsi said about it and may even switch mine over to strict.
100% That’s exactly why I have no issue letting those kinds of guests go.
I have been seriously considering Strict. I had flexible in place for a year and a half without too many issues. I’m still testing out Moderate. If it doesn’t cause a drop off in booking rates, I’ll change it again to Strict in January.
How would you know unless you split test with two identical places side by side @NE10?
I believe that will impact search ranking. For a host who has all the business they need or who is well established with lots of reviews that’s not an issue. If a newer host is reading and having trouble getting all the bookings they want it might not be the best advice.
Good to know @Helsi . That actually gives me more confidence
@KKC I didn’t think of that but makes sense. Moderate seems to work out fine for me so will probably keep it - don’t fix what ain’t broke ,)
Are you saying those with strict policies are dropped down the rankings @KKC?
Every place is different. My personal experience is that only about 2-3% of guests cancel with flexible. and less than 1% cancels last minute. To me that’s actually pretty good.
If true, that is crazy prejudiced against hosts with different business models. I have noticed a drop-off in views for my place since switching to Moderate, but I can’t tell if that is just because the seasons are changing which is normal.