Snowstorms are brewing! What do we do if we lose power?

What to do if we lose power? We are new Airbnb Hosts and advertise our newly renovated basement as a luxury apartment. We have a very specific target audience and have tapped into it pretty quickly with great reviews. That being said, and as we move into winter, what is our best ‘worse case scenario’ if we lose power? Major snowfalls are forecast for our area & I want to at least have a back up plan. Do I offer to put guests in a hotel? Do I offer a refund? What makes sense? Any and all suggestions welcome.

Hotel? Refund? for what? You are not in control of the weather. Have a battery operated lantern and some warm sleeping bags ready.



Longer term - buy a small generator to at run a few important things. I’ll bet your furnace won’t run without power. But it doesn’t need much power - just enough to run the ignitor and the fan (assuming, of course, that you are not on electric heat…)

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If power is out for an extended time I would allow them to cancel. Airbnb will anyway if they go to them. You should not be responsible to rebook.

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Bottled water, uht milk and cream, a bottle of cognac, and a couple of huskies
A Genny is helpful
Gas range for cooking
Extra blankets
“Baby it’s cold outside” on continuous lop


Power down yea! Bring out the acoustics, accordions, spoons & have some fun!
Board games, charades, get cozy… hot buttered rum.
Sounds like a good time from our neck of the woods!


What if they are already here?

Last year I had a power outage due to weather in the morning before the guest were supposed to arrive. The estimated time of when it would be fixed was before the guest were coming but I wasn’t 100% sure so I called Airbnb and they said I would not be penalized if I cancelled the guests due to extenuating circumstances/. I then called the guests and explained the situation. They were already in town staying at a friends house and were very laid back. They said they still wanted to keep the reservation but were ok if I had to cancel. By 5 pm the electric was still off and I was concerned that even if I got the power back on it would take a while to heat up so I called the guests and Airbnb and cancelled. No penalties to anyone. Ironically, about 15 minutes after I cancelled the reservation the heat came back on.


I think you would do the same as I did buy giving the guests the option and Airbnb would allow you to cancel on them (with no penalty) but also refunding their stay. They might also be able to help you move the guests. You would lose their reservation payments. Ask the guests first what they want to do. Airbnb should back you up on this one but they guests will get refunded. If they stay, I would offer them a partial refund.

NO Refunds! YOU do not control the weather!

What YOU do if it was just you, trapped in your house by 3 ft of snow with no electricity??? Can’t get out to the grocery store or restaurants?

Sleeping bags or LOTS of blankets. Large candles (I lived on a boat, and it’s amazing how much heat a table candle generates in an enclosed space like a basement).

If you aren’t already prepared with candles, sleeping bags or blankets, a propane camp stove for cooking, a generator perhaps, and a fridge full of food, there isn’t much that you or Airbnb can do, if you/the guests can’t drive on un-plowed roads. All of you gather in one smallish enclosed area and heat it with bodies and candles. Read, sing, play games.


You need backup heat anyway to ensure your pipes won’t freeze. If there’s a way to install a small wood stove that would be great, but it’s a little late to be ordering a cord of firewood! You’d be surprised how quickly a good fire in a wood stove will heat up a house! You do need to be careful, however, if you have guests that have never dealt with one.

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Refund the current day and future days.

I absolutely would not leave candles and propane camp stoves with guests in a separate home.


Good responses from everyone above :slight_smile:

As others said, no refunds, no hotel. You’ll give Airbnb hosts a bad name - by which I mean that people will think that we’re all pushovers. We don’t need that reputation.

We often lose power here and guests can be shown that it’s an adventure to live a ‘pioneer life’ and do without the TV and electric lighting for a while. No one actually needs Facebook, or a dishwasher, or a hairdryer. (Ok, there might be some medical equipment that needs electricity but if that was the case, guests wouldn’t be travelling to an outage-likely area).

In addition to the above, have playing cards, books, magazines. Have a ‘happy guest kit’ containing bottled water and canned/dried foods. You probably have a supply of items for your own home for eventualities (I have my ‘hurricane kit’) so just create one for the guests.

We should all have happy guest kits anyway because scenarios such as power cuts, water shortages etc. can happen at any time. Hosting isn’t for the faint-hearted - or the unprepared!


In New England if we lose power in the winter it’s pretty serious. Depending on the type of storm, you really won’t have the option not to cancel. Airbnb will consider it an extenuating circumstance.

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Having experienced this…although out of your control Airbnb will refund any portion of the reservation that is compromised due to power outage just like broke plumbing etc. On the other side I would inform your guest if the power is out and let them decide.

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If the guests are already in the rental…

… the the host can cancel until the cows come home but with severe weather, it’s impossible for the guests to leave. Often even the airports are closed. In this area, we have had trees blocking the roads in addition to the weather so even if airports were open, guests would be unlikely to be able to get to the airport.

Several times we have cancelled prior to the guests’ arrival but as the OP suggests putting up the guests in a hotel (which we all mostly advise strongly against) then it’s to be assumed that the guests are able to get out and aren’t stuck in the rental. In situations like that, we have found that guests would rather stay where they are than try to make it home if the host cancels on them.

Thanks. I definitely have games & cards plus a stocked fridge. Definitely need to stock up on candles & flashlights.

Stock up on batteries too :slight_smile:
I sometimes forget.

Well, that will definitely be a problem because at some point the temperatures will drop too low to safely stay in the home and I would also have to leave and find a place to stay and suffer the burst pipes, etc. So far I’ve only had that one weather related issue.