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Airbnb Host Cancellation Policy - Vacation Rental Guide

The Airbnb host cancellation policy is a set of rules that are put in place by the vacation rental platform and is designed to help protect both guests and hosts equally. 

Once a guest books a property on Airbnb, they assume that their travel accommodation has been looked after, especially since they pay ahead and don’t go looking for alternative stays. Therefore, last-minute cancellations from the host's side can inconvenience the guest and dampen their holiday. 

Changing your Airbnb Cancellation Policy

Choosing a cancellation policy for your guests is a very strategic decision, while it must not put you at a loss when guests make last-minute cancellations it must also not put off guests looking to book your property. 

  1. To apply or edit your cancellation policy, follow the steps below. 

  2. In your profile, go to listings and select the listing which you want to change. 

  3. Click on “Policies and rules”. 

  4. Under policies click on “Edit” next to “Cancellation policy” 

  5. Choose a policy that you are comfortable with. 

  6. Click “Save” 

And you are done! 

Options for Airbnb Cancellations

Airbnb offers 8 options for hosts in terms of cancellation policies for short-term stays (stays under 28 nights) ranging from ‘Flexible’ to ‘Strict or Non-refundable. However, for stays longer than 28 days the long-term cancellation policy is applied automatically.

Flexible: 

With flexible cancellation options, guests can cancel their stays up until 24 hours before checking in without a penalty. If they are unable to do so they will be charged for the first night and the service fee. 

Flexible or Non-refundable:

This option allows guests to pick between a flexible cancellation option or a 10% discount on top of all other discounts and cancellation policies. However, if guests pick this option, they will not be able to get a refund no matter when the cancellation is made. As a host, you get to keep your entire payout for all nights booked, minus the cleaning fee if they cancel before check-in.

Moderate: 

With the moderate cancellation policy, guests get to cancel up until five days before check-in and still receive a full refund. If they cancel less than five days before check-in, they’ll get a 50% refund but will be charged with the first night and the service fee. 

Moderate or Non-refundable: 

In addition to Moderate, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% off the base price (except in China), but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel.

Firm: 

Here guests get a full refund for cancellations up to 30 days before check-in. If booked fewer than 30 days before check-in, a full refund is done for cancellations made within 48 hours of booking and at least 14 days before check-in. After that, 50% refund up to 7 days before check-in. No refund after that.

Firm or Non-refundable: 

In addition to Firm, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% off the base price (except in China), but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel. 

Strict: 

This policy allows for a full refund for cancellations made within 48 hours of booking if the check-in date is at least 14 days away. 50% refund for cancellations made at least 7 days before check-in. No refunds for cancellations made within 7 days of check-in. 

Strict or Non-refundable 

In addition to Strict, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% off the base price (except in China), but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel. 

Long-term Stay Cancellation Policy

- For guests who book 28 nights or more. 

A full refund is offered for the long-term stay cancellation policy if canceled within 48 hours of booking and at least 28 days before check-in. After that, the first 30 days of the stay are non-refundable.

Host Cancellations:

When a property owner cancels the booking that a guest has made it goes as a host cancellation. It only takes a few steps but hosts are not encouraged to opt for this other than as a last resort. Follow the steps below to cancel a booking: 

  1. Login to your Airbnb profile. 

  2. Select the listing you’d like to edit. 

  3. Go to “Reservations”. 

  4. Select the reservation that you would like to cancel. 

  5. Click on the three dots. 

  6. Select “Change or cancel from the drop-down 

  7. Follow the instructions 

Note: if you are making the cancellation less than 24-hours before your guests’ check-in, you will need to contact Airbnb directly to cancel the reservation. 

Changing a Reservation: 

If you are looking to change a reservation, follow the steps below to send your guests a request: 

  1. In your Airbnb profile go to “Reservations” 

  2. Select the reservation you want to change 

  3. Click on “Change or cancel” 

  4. Select “Change Reservation” 

  5. Make the required changes and click “Continue” 

  6. Review your changes 

  7. Click on “Send request” 

Cancellation Penalty for Hosts  

Hosts canceling out can have a negative impact on the guests especially if the cancellation was made last minute. For this reason, Airbnb does not encourage host cancellations and has introduced a penalty that the host canceling will have to pay. However, an allowance is given for hosts once in every 6-month period whereby no penalties will be levied against the host. 

Host Cancellation Fees: 

After their first free cancellation hosts will be charged for any other cancellations that follow. A penalty of $50 will be charged by Airbnb if the cancellation is made more than 7 days prior to the check-in date. If, however, the cancellation is made less than seven days prior to the check-in date the penalty fee is increased to $100. Typically this fee will be deducted from your first payout after the cancellation. 

Most hosts believe that these penalties are too high but since cancellations disrupt guests' plans and may also impact their confidence in the Airbnb community these penalties may be justified. On the flip side, if you’ve completed 10 consecutive bookings without canceling, the fee can be waived off.  

Other Penalties for Host Cancellations:

Public review: 

If a cancellation is made before the day of check-in an automated review will be posted to your listing's profile indicating that you canceled one of your reservations. These reviews can't be removed, the only way forward for you as a host would be to write a public response to clarify why you needed to cancel. 

If you cancel on the day of check-in or later, guests can choose to leave a public review on your listing’s profile. 

Unavailable/blocked calendar 

If you cancel a confirmed reservation, your calendar may be blocked, in which case you won't be able to accept another reservation that overlaps with the canceled reservation. 

Risk of account suspension and deactivation 

If you cancel 3 or more reservations within a year, Airbnb may suspend or deactivate your listing.

Superhost status 

If you are looking to attain Superhost status this will be delayed for one year beginning from the date of the latest cancellation.  

If you already are a Superhost, you may lose the badge unless you maintain a cancellation rate of 1% percent or lower.

Instant Book Hosts Exceptions: 

Hosts who use the Instant Book option in their listing may be exempted from paying the penalty if they indicate that they are worried about the guests or have other concerns about the reservation. Hosts can indicate the reason behind the cancellation when they cancel or change the reservation. Airbnb will then strive to find a replacement guest for this time period. 

The refund process:

To refund a guest before their check-in date, go to Reservations, select a reservation, and click Issue refund. Guests who have been subjected to cancellations have two options to get their refund: 

  • Money can be transferred to another reservation of their choice 

  • The refund can be made to the guest's bank account within 48 hours of the process. 

Note: If the cancellation took place on a reservation that was four weeks away, then no refund request is needed as this will be done automatically. 

Some tips to Avoid Cancelling on Guests 

No matter how meticulous of a host you are, life sometimes gets in the way and a small lapse can result in you having to make a cancellation. Here are a few tips to manage your Airbnb in such a way so that you won't have to cancel out on your guests. 

  • Sync your calendar from Airbnb with other OTPs and your cleaning service to avoid overbooking and overlapping of functions. 

  • Make plans for blocking your property for maintenance or other personal reasons months ahead. 

  • Invest in Hostaway’s vacation rental software to assist you with running your property smoothly.

Want to find out more?

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