The Airbnb team heard feedback from you and the host community about the upcoming change to our Strict cancellation policy. In order to address your concerns, we’re delaying the change until May 1, 2018.
Before the change goes into effect, we’ll share more about what we’re doing to address your concerns, particularly around protecting your listing details from being shared with guests who cancel. But for now, we’d like to clear up some confusion and help you better understand the new policy and how it will benefit the whole community:
Here’s how the new grace period policy will work—and some of the protections we have in place for hosts:
Limited-time refund within 48 hours after booking when the check-in date is at least 14 days away
Guests must cancel within 48 hours after booking and can only cancel if their check-in date is 14+ days away. This means that no matter how far out your guests book, they only have 48 hours from the time they book to cancel for free. We want to make sure that if guests change their mind, you have enough time to get another booking.
Three refunds per year per guest
To prevent abuse, guests are limited to three fully refunded cancellations a year.
No full refunds for overlapping bookings
To make sure guests are not making multiple bookings and then cancelling, any booking made by a guest when they already have an active booking for those dates will not be covered under our grace period policy.
Your hosting success is top of mind for us, and tests of this policy—including among hosts with strict cancellation policies in place—strongly suggest the change will result in increased bookings and successful stays. With this grace period, not only do guests book with more confidence, but they also have the ability to resolve booking mistakes without requiring your valuable time and intervention.
We value your feedback, and will follow up shortly with more insight into how your ideas are shaping this policy.
----------Update April 24th, 2018----------
Just to let you know there is now an update regarding protecting your listing details, as mentioned above.
Here is the link to take a look: An update on the Strict Cancellation Policy
Missed the Host Q&A, watch it now here and if you are short of time, you will also find a short overview of the questions answered.
Looking to contact the Support Team, for details...take a look at the Community Help Guides.
Thanks it's good to hear that Airbnb are reviewing this.
When I trialled using it, I had three cancellations in three weeks (before that I had three cancellations in two and a half years).
Based on my figures from last year, I haven't seen an increase in bookings.
I do hope they reconsider for hosts with a strict cancellation policy. I wouldn't have chosen this if I wanted guests to be able to cancel their bookings without penalty.
I could perhaps see the value of say a 12 hour window but 48 hours is far too long.
And as I have mentioned before I am very concerned about Airbnb disclosing my full details before the guest has a confirmed booking. They should only have this once the cancellation free period has passed.
@Lizzie I still don't understand why the freebie cancellation is not less than 24 hours – 12hours, 6hours even 2 hours would be fairer. And why not have 'Strict' and 'Strict with grace period" then we can decide what suits us. Hosts only get 24 hours to do anything before they are penalized. Guests who cancel on me have cancelled within a few hours because I have alerted them to the description, which they had not read, I refund. With '48hour freebie' guests can still hold a host's calendar hostage, and potentially lose bookings, it also encourages irresponsible guests and takes away a host's cntrol over their property. btw: Airbnb still need to address not sending out hosts information before the guests freebie cancellation has run out. Please see Hosts Voice.
Extend 14 days to at least 30. 14 days puts you at a higher risk of having a place unbooked. Lose the 48 hour grace and make it 24. Again 48 hours makes it to high risk especially when just outside 14 days. 24 hours is more than reasonable. 48 hours locks up your listing for too long.
Limiting guests to three free cancellations per year is too high. Limit it to one cancellation per year. As hosts we only get three cancellations before being downgraded, penalized, yet I do about 40 bookings per year. So I have to think long and hard before I cancel a booking. A guest who most likely books Airbnb maybe 2 to 5 times a year and gets up to 3 cancellation free cards per year, doesn't have nearly as much at stake for cancelling and would be much more likely to cancel.
I get your point about only giving us 24 hours but them 48...doesnt make sense but honestly it has not been an issue for me. Two weeks out is OK but I am in a very high volume area.
What is a bigger issue is giving them 24 hours for "payment pending" and 72 hours for Group Payment on Last Minute bookings. I'm stuck wondering if I should kayak out to my boat and set it up or if they are going to flake. This should not be allowed on same day and last minute bookings. Huge headache. There is a button to "decline reservation" after I get the payment pending message but it does absolutely.nothing. I press it and still have my listing held hostage.
It is very good to experience that our comments are being taken serious by Airbnb. And they actually do resort in some effect to the policies of Airbnb!
As that’s what this community is supposed to be all about: Reflection (amongst others).
Also I do think that a 48 hour grace period is still too long. So, when there has to be a grace period, then 24 hours should suffice as well.
Most hosts are triggered anyway (in an attempt to keep their response time low), to react within the first hour of either a reservation or even an inquiry. So when mistakes by the guests or mismatches are revealed. These will easily become evident in the first 24 hours anyway.
So there should always be sufficient time, to cancel the reservation. Although I must admit, when there is a big time difference between the guest and the host during the booking phase of a reservation. The communication can take a considerable amount of time (I.e. at max 12 hour time difference). It happened to me already quite often, that either a request or an inquiry came in, during our nighttime.
And I agree with @Helen, @Jeremy, @Ange that the private details of the host should not be shared with the guest until the grace period is over. Maybe Airbnb should generate an automated message, informing the guest that these details will be shared with them – as soon as the booking gets a confirmed status.
@Lizzie- Thank you so much! I think the main issue is not having a choice or control over our listings. We would like to be able to decide if a grace period is right for us, and if so how long. In addition, we don't want personal and sensitive information leaked to people who might be flaky or even criminal. I have come across several criminal guests on Airbnb. They know how to make Airbnb work for them and unfortuately Airbnb lets it happen over and over again in my experience. Even the staff doesn't follow Airbnb policy in my cases.
@ZappaDon't get me started on group pay! Guest gets 72 hours to round up the team. Then another 24 hours if one of them doesn't pay. For 4 whole days, your calendar is blocked to other guests and even though 97% pay up, ABB say, it is stressful knowing what the outcome will be.
The guest can also send you a message when they book, but because they haven't paid in full, the message sits in your inbox and you're not sent a notification. They may have a question which needs to be answered, but you wouldn't know unless you log into your dashboard every day!
But, not to hijack this thread, giving guests any personal details without a confirmed booking is a retrograde step. Blocking a calendar for 2 days before the guest can cancel penalty-free is not good.
Put these together and it's hard not to feel under attack and powerless!
There needs be mechanisms in place to prevent those who cancel within 48 hours from viewing "Location" and "Guest resources (House Manual, Wifi info)". I cannot risk jeopardizing the security of my apartment.
I think the 14 day rule also opens up room for problems. What if I am lucky enough to have different guests book and then make consecutive 48-hour cancellations for the same date ranges 14 days away? I will lose out on real opportunities from guests who've actually made up their minds before booking. Airbnb should extend this to 60+ days, otherwise they aren't getting their refunds.
Thank goodness for this acknowledgement of host concerns. Lizzie, your message is appreciated. I think you are still hearing from hosts that there is still so much room to improve this significant proposed change to a strict cancellation policy. Delaying the roll-out until May 1 seems like a fair way to continue a conversations with your host community. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THIS!
I'm going to respond to each of Lizzie's bolded headings from her Airbnb update above.
"Limited-time refund within 48 hours after booking when the check-in date is at least 14 days away"
I understand how this 14 day lead time works, but 14 days is NOT enough time and presents a risk to bookings in my case. In my market, and for my listing, if I still have an open weekend coming up in the 2-3 week window, there is often a flurry of activity and listing views say 15-20 days out. Airbnb's "Check Trends" often confirms that homes "are going fast." Within my listing, a guest will see a prompt that "X number of other people are viewing this home." Airbnb is basically building pressures and incentives for a prospective guest to hurry and book. They do this because it works to get people to seal the deal. If someone ties up my booking and then cancels, you better believe a handful of other prospective guests have moved on and booked other listings in the meantime, which means my chances of securing another booking ARE diminished.
I've shared this before (but feel compelled to repeat here since the other threads have been closed and I fear my concerns may be diluted)...in my case, if I leave my calendar set up to receive a booking that is just outside of the 14 day window, I am effectively keeping my entire family's schedule in limbo so that we can be nimble enough to take the booking and make it work from start-to-finish. I manage my entire listing myself and have a 3 hour round-trip drive between each booking to clean and stock the house between each guest. I have two young children who I am primary caregiver for. If I get a booking 15 days out, you better believe I have to hustle to make arrangments for childcare, synchronizing with my husband's work schedule, and planning my property management tasks for that booking. For a guest to then cancel, I am left undoing a lot of this logistical work. Inconvenience doesn't even begin to describe this scenario.
I'm not sure what the 'right' number is for lead time but 14 days is certainly not it. 3 weeks would still be pushing it, but would be heads- and-shoulders more fair and manageable than 14 days. I have read data suggesting that the average lead time for a booking is around 18 days.
I will also echo other hosts in saying that 48 hours seems to be overly-generous to guests who may need or want to cancel. Any special offer expires in 24 hours. I have 24 hours to respond to an guest inquiry. Why is the Airbnb 24 hour language suddenly changing to 48? I could argue that cancellations should be given less than 24 hours, but in any case why isn't 24 hours the starting point for discussion here instead of 48?
"Three refunds per year per guest"
I've never cancelled a reservation in 18 months of active hosting, but I understand that hosts are not given three penatly-free cancellations. I struggle to understand why there wouldn't be parity here. I also do not see how this discourages guests from abusing the policy. Sure, there are some people who use Airbnb numerous times each year (business travellers), so three cancellations a year per guest could be enough to help those guests take their cancelling habits seriously, but many of the guests I host are very infrequent Airbnb users...they are often brand new to the platform or make just 1 or 2 airbnb trips a year. This 'three refund per year' business would mean nothing to them.
I've seen on the platform that there is a standard statement that autopopulates a host's reviews if they ever cancel a reservation....it says something like "This host cancelled the reservation xx days before checkin." Airbnb could consider a similar prompt appearing on a guest's profile if they cancel. (I saw somebody else suggest this, not my idea. ) For those hosts who have not given into the immense pressure from Airbnb to allow Instant Booking, they would at least have an opportunity to consider a guest's reliability when they consider a booking request. Guests already do this with hosts' reliability, when considering whether they should choose that listing or not and they notice the host has cancelled in the past.
"No full refunds for overlapping bookings"
This only makes a lick of a difference if guests book multiple bookings at once as a way to hold them. It does not prevent a guest from lining up an alternate Instant Booking (entering nearly all the required information to complete a booking), right befor they hit "cancel" on reservation 1, and then quickly submitting the booking for the alternate place.
It seems to me if this feature were to be more impactful in actually discouraging guests from tying up listings when their only intention is to shop around, then they should be prevented from making another booking for a defined period of time....I come back to the precedent of 24 hours for nearly everything else on Airbnb. I don't know how much time, but you get the idea. That would introduce some risk that those who are just shopping around may lose the alternate booking. THAT would cause lookers to be very intentional about booking, as opposed to booking willy-nilly with no real thought of consequence.
My additional thoughts and concerns in response to Airbnb:
- I continue to feel it important to say, that not all hosts want MORE bookings. This policy is not for me. I do not want MORE bookings. I want the right bookings.
- I understand that the policy was tested. I remember when I got the invite to try it out. It was in December, leading into a major holiday season...when I was making my own life/travel plans....I was especially averse to trying out a new grace period at THAT time of year. Did Airbnb poll the hosts who did NOT opt in to the policy during the test, to gather host concerns and feedback about why they were not opting in?
- This grace period will (I'm just being honest) likely change they way I interact with my guests. Lizzie and others at Airbnb, please look at how allowing a grace period stands to place MORE demands on my valuable time, if I am asked to be responsive and invest time with guests who then cancel. As it is, I quickly reply and share information with my guests. I am routinely asked for information to help guests prepare for their trip. Historically, I jump right in and am generous with my time, because this is part of my entire hosting philosophy. (I have even chosen to spend hours with guests BEFORE they book, sharing answers to their unique questions and circumstances.) With a grace period, I may feel compelled to be more scarce with a guest until their booking is no longer provisional. What a dilemma for a committed host! Creating a sense of mistrust, and inadvertently encouraging hosts to adopt an arms-length approach with their guests would be an unintended consequence of this grace period policy, and that's not good for anyone in the Airbnb community.
- To the extent that there is to be a grace period imposed on those of us who have been operating under the strict policy, I remain hopeful that Airbnb will make some structural changes to the booking flow...as it is my phone number, address, wifi, and house manual are instantly shared with a guest once they book. This is a security and privacy risk to me. This is a SECURITY and PRIVACY risk to me. Clearly there are many of us with this concern. It is also something that stands to create yet an additional demand on my time if I have to compensate by removing that information from my listing and shift to a manual system of sharing these details in the Airbnb message center. These are the steps I feel would be necessary to take to protect my privacy and security. But I do not think this is in anyone's interest. The message center is NOT the best format to share key information. It would be cumbersome for a guest to wade through. And I do NOT like the idea of extra steps and extra work just to share the same information with guests that I always have in the past. Again, Lizzie and others at Airbnb, can you please see how some of these nuances place more demand on our valuable time, not less?
I chose Airbnb as a listing platform and the Strict cancellation policy because that is what works for my family. If a guest doesn't want to book my listing because of the strict policy, then they do not have to book it. I am well aware that prospective guests may look elsewhere because of a strict cancellation policy, but I have made an informed choice to work within that limitation . And by the way, there are circumstances where I absolutely would have no reason to keep a guest's money if they cancel....just because I have a strict cancellation policy does not mean I would always enforce it. But I think I deserve a choice.
I believe this so strongly that I just spent my only time off all week to write this piece. I hope our collective concerns as host can make a differnce on this one.
Thanks for reading--
@Lizzie We have been signed up voluntarily with the Grace Period since December and have seen no increased views or bookings. ABB says the 48-hour Grace Period allows the host 14-days to rebook in the "rare" instance the guest cancels, yet ABB gives those guests three (3!) penalty-free cancellations per year. That is not my defnition of rare, especially when probably 90%+ of ABB guests don't book listings more than twice a year.
ABB clearly wants MORE guests, but many hosts want BETTER guests.
I forgot to mention: How can guests technically have overlapping bookings?
As third party bookings (from Non-Business Accounts) are not allowed according to Airbnb.
I do appreciate that guests may want to rent an accommodation + experiences (But that’s something else).
I do also appreciate that a guest might be booking multiple properties for a larger group of guests. But again, this is not allowed according to Airbnb – as the main guest must be in the group that will stay as part of the booking!
But maybe this is just my humble ignorance.