Who pays for the risks associated with Airbnb?

I just saw and read two threads that are right next to one another in my forum list.


One is about how a guest expected a refund even though their flight was delayed. They should have bought travel insurance. The next is about a host who has to cancel because they are ill. Interesting that if something happens to the host the guest might have to suffer. Should there be host insurance in case something happens to the listing and that host can’t host? If I’m a guest I should be compensated with another listing but who should pay the difference, if there is one? If I’ve spent hours looking for the perfect listing should I just accept that my host can cancel on me last minute and I have to suck it up?

This is not to meant to be host blaming at all but just an exercise in pondering who is responsible for the risks associated with Airbnb, on both sides. Do the fees Airbnb takes cover the risks? Should they raise the fees in effect making all of us pay for the issues?

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As a guest I was canceled on maybe 2 weeks before my stay. Airbnb gave me $100 as a credit for the trouble.

I’ve found that Airbnb fees are less expensive - and easier to deal with - than many other forms of advertising. It’s all pretty hassle-free and creates its own reporting and accounting system. As it is, Airbnb offers a good service to hosts and to guests.

I’ve never had guests complain to me about Airbnb fees but I’ve read many many complaints from hosts (here and other places online) about the fees. Many hosts expect Airbnb to oversee their business for them and yet still complain that the fees are too high. If the fees were even higher there’d be even more grumpiness.


Did you have to make a fuss to get that? I have had hosts cancel but have never been offered compensation. The worst was a BCD booking in Lima, Peru where I turned up to a condo and they refused to acknowledge my booking, communicate with me or BCD. I had to find internet and an alternative place to stay.

I have a friend who has started listing on Air who has cancelled a few guests because she didn’t understand how Air works - long story. When I told her she needed to stop doing it as she was going to get kicked off the platform her response was: but I have had so many hosts cancel on me!

I sent her a link to this forum and said that if she found herself in the situation where she needed to cancel again to contact me so that I could help her.

So there are many hosts out there that are just flying by the seat of their pants!


I can imagine a lot of scenarios where the guest might arrive days late or not at all, due to airline strike, illness, missed plane, volcano dust, or other… Especially nowadays the age of the 15 euro round trip flight ticket. In this case depending on the situation I might reimburse something if I was able to rent to someone else.

As for illness of the host, we all know the consequences of hosts cancelling the reservation, you pay dearly for that. So anyone who is a serious host will find a solution to get help if they have to be away or if they are ill (depending of course how ill!).
I think the system protects guests pretty well from capricious host cancellations don’t you?

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This question highlights a fundamental difference of how I view Airbnb. I have always viewed home stays as a far more economical, but more risky way of traveling for exactly that reason - guest are NOT dealing with a big conglomerate with alternate rooms to offer. Some hosts here offer accommodations for $47 a night for 2 people! Some less! And for that they also want risk free travel? Yes, if something unforeseen happens to the host the guest may need to scramble - with Airbnb’s assistance and if they have to pay more money - well, that’s the risk they took.


You are spot-on. In all of business, risk is calculated and included in the price. That’s why non-refundable airline tickets are so much cheaper than refundable - the airline takes very little risk on the nonrefundable ticket so they accept a lower price.


No it read like an automated email.

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That’s an interesting perspective. I’m just not sure that I agree that if something happens to the guest, they bear the risk and if something happens to the host, they still bear the risk. Since they get refunds and airbnb helps them find another place, the risk is low. Sometimes Airbnb pays for a much nicer place. However, we all pay for hosts who cancel because if it comes out of Air’s pocket they are going to raise fees and that will get distributed across all Airbnb users over time.

Yes they do the best they can. I just thought the idea of a host travel insurance and a guest travel insurance was interesting to think about.

They certainly are. That’s why a search with the SH filter on and try to get a host with dozens of reviews and no cancellations.

My host friend didn’t seem to be worried by it at all! She said two were because guests hadn’t read the listing correctly and one because the place was flooded. She didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal!

As a host I have soldiered on with prescription pain killers and a friend driving 100km to help me to ensure the place is clean and ready so that a guest booking is honoured before blocking off a couple of weeks to recover. I know you are just asking for clarification but I think it is so rare it is in the very low risk category.

I had a friend turn up in Bali to a cancelled Air booking and had to find a place to stay. Then again I once flew 24hrs from Melbourne to NYC to arrive to a text message from Double Tree Hotel in Wall St area saying they had tried to contact me to confirm my booking and couldn’t so cancelled the booking. Even though I had emailed them to confirm the already paid for agents booking before I left and said I would be in the air so not contactable. Fortunately they reinstated it when i explained I was on crutches and couldn’t be dragging my sorry ass and luggage all over Manhattan looking for a new hotel. So it happens with hotel chains as well these days. Nice. The problem with this is people will now book 2 or 3 hotels so one is available and then just not turn up to the others w/o cancelling and so the problem just spirals out of control. Like taxi no shows.