Which cancellation policy?


Which Airbnb cancellation policy should I use on my new listing? Should I be as flexible as possible to establish more bookings right away? I’m told by experts in the area my place will be filling up quickly, but right now I have the policy as “strict” as that is mostly what I see when I am a traveler.

Different policies work best for certain listings. Using flexible to get more bookings won’t be helpful if the guests cancel last minute. On the other hand, flexible could work fine for a host whose listing is close to an airport, or an interstate highway, who get lots of last minute bookings that could fill cancelled dates. Or if the host really doesn’t care much about having unbooked days because they don’t count on the income in any appreciable way.

I started out using the moderate policy and it works well for me, so have stuck to that, as I live in a destination tourist town, where most guests fly into, so they have airline tickets booked, have booked time off work, etc.,- they aren’t likely to cancel less than 5 days before check-in. And if they do, I at least get paid for the first night and half the remaining nights, so ending up with unrebooked nights isn’t so painful.

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If you are going to “fill up right away” then my suggestion is to use moderate. Strict might not deter some people but it certainly deters me and I can’t be the only one. Also it should be easy to get replacement bookings unless you are a fly in destination to which people rarely plan a last minute trip.

If you want to get a lot of bookings and reviews right away you need to limit the length of stays that you allow at first.


Keep in mind that while everyone wants bookings, “filling up quickly” isn’t the most important thing for a new host. Between having discounts on new listings and a flexible policy, you could attract some poor quality guests who don’t respect your space and leave low star reviews. You want to try to get good reviews right away.

I don’t know the nature of your listing, whether it’s an entire place and you live off-site, or a homeshare, or you live on the same property in a separate dwelling, but you might also want to have a 2 or 3 night minimum if it’s an entire place and you are off-site, so as not to attract partiers. Guests with nefarious intent tend to target new hosts, so that’s something you should be aware of.


I’ve had the flexible cancellation policy for the past six years and it has worked well for me. I’ve only had a few cancellations which opened the calendar and I was able to get those days booked quickly. I think it all depends on your area.

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