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In light of @Lizzie and crew keeping track of our comments, I would like to start a new thread on this particular subject. We were all robbed blind by Airbnb. That is old news now. What I would really really like to know, NEED to know if they are going to continue refunding beyond April 14. Then I can plan. Nothing all of us say here can change what they decide, I get that. But at least if I know what Airbnb is planning, I can plan.
I will explain why this is so important to me. I already have my summer calendar half full. I have strict policy. If no more money is taken away, even if I do not get a single new reservation, I can survive.
If they will continue with refunds and I know it now, I can regroup now- rent long term, get out of leases, etc. I will be more likely to come back as a host when this is over vs defaulting on properties and being evicted out of rentals. Allowing me to plan is in Airbnb's own interest.
I understand that I’m not the most favorite or common type of host on this community board – meaning I have multiple properties. But I hope you all agree that we need to have this information in order how to plan for the future.
Hi @Inna22 , they were booked for the weekend of May 1st. They cancelled saying the wedding they were coming in to town for was postponed due to the virus.
@Brenda328 very good point. I hadn’t thought about it but it makes total sense. We all know that Airbnb makes huge amounts of interest holding all those guest payments for weeks or months at a time. The guest, on the other hand, usually assumes their money goes straight to the host. It’s no wonder that the guests think we can afford to lose 100%.
i believe Airbnb is employing this tactic A. To keep guests happy at all costs, even if it means breaking every agreement the guest and host signed up to and B. To keep those funds in their own system for as long as possible.
You are absolutely right of course. I have not asked future guests to cancel, but asked them what are their travel plans given the current situation. I would certainly have honoured any bookings, but wanted to have some idea if they knew they were going to cancel or thought they were likely to so I could start planning ahead for that rather than find out at the last minute and have no options left.
The guest I mentioned told me she would like to cancel or to postpone and asked me what I would prefer. I was honest and said I would prefer cancellation, given that it was highly uncertain she would be coming on the new dates she had suggested, which were just three weeks later. She already knew she would not get a full refund if she cancelled, And I confirmed this was true. I asked her what she wanted to do.
it was only after she spoke to Airbnb that she freaked out (this is starting to become a pattern), because Airbnb is encouraging guests to break their contracts, take the money and run. Unfortunately, most guests will succumb to this because if Airbnb are authorising this decision, it must be right. Then the host suddenly becomes the villain if they even question this.
I certainly will go back to long term tenants if I can, although that isn’t something I wanted to do after having a few who treated me and my house with zero respect, but needs must. However, until the rest of the bookings are cancelled I can’t.
of course, I can do what you suggest, lose the Superhost status we work so hard for, pay Airbnb even more although they still owe me plenty of money, but that would mean cutting all ties with them and delisting permanently. It’s certainly something I am considering at this point.
@Sarah977 Yes exactly. That is precisely what the guest thought due to that particular wording.
i have clarified that with her, but somehow she now thinks that I am trying to scam her. Apparently, Airbnb are bound to refund the hosts eventually anyway, so she is sure that I will get all my money back.
@Huma0 When I messaged that guest I still had on the books to suggest that it would be best to cancel, and she agreed, I told her she should just be able to click on cancel, and state coronavirus as the reason and that I was sure she'd get fully refunded, as her dates conformed to the current policy. I also said that if it glitched somehow, or she wasn't offered a full refund, to let me know, and I'd make sure to refund her whatever Airbnb didn't. I also let her know to just cancel on her end, rather than click on whatever is there that sends a message to the host asking to accept a cancellation, explaining I'd be penalized if I accepted.
It apparently went smooth for her, because she canceled and I got the cancellation notice and she did receive a full refund.
@Inna22 I think I have the answer for you. So I have a long-term guest who is supposed to be arriving from Milan to start a new job later in April. I messaged her a couple of times to ask if her plans had changed. This prompted her to chase her new employer. Said employer suggested they might put off her start date for a few weeks. She said she could either cancel (and that she was aware that her booking did not qualify for the COVID-19 extenuating circumstances due to the check in date) or change the dates for a few weeks later.
I ummed and aahhed about this. What to do? Eventually, I responded that it was maybe better that she cancelled, given that her new date was quite likely to change again and that her employer also suggested she might have to stay in Milan and work from there. I offered to additionally refund her if I got the nights rebooked.
Guess what happened? She contacted Airbnb to ask them about it, and here is what she reported back to me:
"I have just contacted Airbnb. They have suggested me to wait as much as I can. The limits on the check-in dates for the refunds derives from the travel restrictions of the countries. Most likely, since the situation is not going any better, they will extend their new cancellation policy for further check-in dates, which will include mine. In this case, we both would not have any losses. I will contact them again next week and keep you updated.
If I cancel now and if they change their policy later I will be losing my payment for something that is out of my control."
I have written back to her to explain that Airbnb is not the one refunding the accommodation costs and that "we both would not have any losses" is not actually the case!
Airbnb are actively encouraging guests to wait before cancelling bookings they know they are going to cancel, so that they can extend that deadline and refund more guests from the hosts' pockets.
There is another reason that Airbnb does not want guests to cancel future reservations immediately - cash flow. Remember many guests book months in advance. That means that Airbnb is potentially holding the guest's payment for several months until it is paid out to the hosts. I have many reservations that are made 9-12 months in advance so Airbnb has the guest's money that entire time. Many of us hosts have $50,000 - $100,000 (or more) in bookings where Airbnb is currently holding the guest's payment.
Most likely Airbnb does not have that money just setting in the bank collecting 1-2% interest (on an annual basis); Airbnb is probably actively using that money for their operations. Nowhere in our agreement (to my knowledge) does Airbnb ever indicate they are holding that money in escrow or in a secured account for us as hosts.
If they are paying out guests right now, even at 50%, for reservations throughout May, June, and July that is a huge hit to their cash flow. Normally that money would not be paid out until the guest actually arrived in May, June, or July. So even if they do intend to fully refund those guests, they want to issue those refunds as close to the actual check-in date as possible. Their business model depends on anticipating when payouts are going to occur.
Even if they do have $3,000,000,000 (yes, that is billion with a 'b') in the bank right now, that money disappears quickly if they are paying out reservation cancellations far in advance of the scheduled check-in date and they don't have additional booking revenue coming in to replace it.
If this continues, I hope they are sufficiently capitalized to pay us our funds when they are due. Right now Airbnb is essentially borrowing money from us hosts from the time the guest makes the payment until we receive it. I hope they are managing our money wisely.
@Huma0 The way the COVID policy reads, it says that hosts won't receive any penalties if they cancel. Guests just assume this means the hosts won't suffer any financial loss, when all it means is that we won't get cancellation penalties applied. Airbnb, as usual, managed to word things so it sounded like they are being benevolent, while lying by ommission.
What to do?
If I was in Your situation I would start renting 2 of Your 3 rooms longterm for 1 year immediately and keep one room to airbnb it. For my money it will take a minimum of one year until the travel market recovers from the corona crisis.
What airbnb is doing with us is: They want us to hold onto all our 2020 reservations, they though reserve the right to change anything around just to their liking. You may hold onto a june 4 to 8 reservation and on june 1 You get a notification that all june reservations are eligable for a 100% refund. Huma, they will screw You over.
Try to get your guests to cancel, if they don't You may have to cancel from Your side and have to eat the 50$ penalty. And You will get an entry into Your review history „the host cancelled this reservation bla bla bla“. Write a note under it. „Cancelled due to Corona“.
I personally expect a 30 to 40% rental income in 2020 compared to 2019. I cannot do anything about it really and the best thing to do is to take a littel brake from renting.
I have never considered the rental income my main source of income – I will not go under.
What I will not do: Bang my head against the wall about an issue I just can't change.
This is such a tricky situation to judge. I host long-term guests and the ones who were already here cancelled and left and got full refunds (even for some of the nights they had stayed), despite the fact that their bookings did not fall within the COVID-19 extenuating circumstances, which state, "If a reservation has already begun (the check-in has passed), this extenuating circumstance does not apply."
None of my upcoming bookings (as they were either weeks or months off, the rooms supposedly already fully booked before the cancellations) qualify for extenuating circumstances. Now, if these guests cancel, which likely they will, I am going to lose money, but in theory I would at least get something, i.e. the 30 days due under the long-term cancellation policy.
However, I don't trust Airbnb for a second anymore, after what has happened. They could extend the policy at any time. Even if they don't, they are not following the policy when it comes to refunds. They are refunding guests who don't qualify for extenuating circumstances. I have already had 4.5 months worth of bookings cancelled and fully refunded that did not qualify.
What to do? I messaged the next two long-term guests (both checking in after the 15th April), asking them for an update of their circumstances and plans. This urged them to check with their employer/university. Seems one of them will have to cancel. She accepts the cancellation policy thankfully. Now let's just hope that Airbnb sticks with it.
The second one wants either to cancel or delay her trip. She also understands the cancellation policy and is leaving it to me to decide. While I can't afford to lose a booking, I also can't afford for the room to be empty in the meantime, to hold out for a booking that may be cancelled anyway and fully refunded by Airbnb regardless of their own policies. At least if the guests cancel, I can try to find long-term renters.
Right now, it feels like being stuck between a rock and a hard place (I am sure many of you hosts are in the same position). It is also causing unnecessary conflict between hosts and guests.
Airbnb, FINE, implement a new extenuating circumstances policy for COVID-19, but please STICK TO IT. Stop refunding guests that do not qualify!!
Will they extend the dates that the policy covers? Probably. Does it matter? Probably not, because they will refund any guest that asks, regardless of if their dates are covered or not.
You are absolutely right. Airbnbs actions have become unpredictable.
Recently there was a thread where a host had a reservation cancelled due to extenuating circumstance. As You know the old EC had a list of bulletpoints, one of them had to me bet to qualify for an EC cancellation. But in this specific case the reason for cancelling didn't meet any of the bulletpoints.
The host called CS and was told: We have an internal list with more bulletpoints.
What does that mean? That means: We do whatever we want.
Huma, airbnb has become unpredictable. Noone can fortell what they will decide in a specific situation. They are unpredictable like the wheather. What kind of wheater will there be in London on September 18, 2020? We don't know.
Even worse than that: There may be the brightest sunshine of all time in London on sept.18, but unfortenately exactely onto Your house it's raining cats and dogs and noone knows why.
If You base a decision You have to make on what airbnb may decide in the future, You've decided to play roulette. And for some of us its russian roulette.
Airbnb will refund all guests regardless of the published policy and then advise the hosts as happened to me. Unless you complain they will just do it. Sadly guests will wear you down with constant messages demanding refunds and endlessly call Airbnb until they get what they want. Airbnb have correctly worked out it is cheaper to allow the guest to cancel as Airbnb only loses a small amount of money rather than have contact centre staff spending hours trying to resolve it. Airbnb hosts have no rights whatsover - we signed those away when agreeing to their terms and conditions. My comments here are likely to contravene those terms and conditions but this is a closed community and the forum is here to suppot other hosts. Cavaet Emptor!
@Raymond178 even if you do complain, they still do it. That’s my experience anyhow. They say you are right according to their policies, seem sympathetic etc, but after you hang up the phone, do the opposite of what they said they would do and refund the guest anyway, regardless of whether that guest qualified for extenuating circumstances or not. After that, they will just say there’s no reversing it.
Hang on on a second... did they not just reverse the contractual agreement? Did they not just reverse the payment that was on its way to you? Of course they can reverse it, but you are right. It’s quicker just to refund the guest regardless of the circumstances but lie to the host in the meantime by pretending they will do the opposite, just to get the host off the phone faster.
An internal list with more bullet points? Really? Wow.
Well, actually, I don't think there is such a list. It's just their way of justifying doing whatever they please.
Extenuating circumstances policies don't mean anything. Every guest that doesn't qualify now but still wants a full refund is going to contact Airbnb and get one. It is very easy to hand out other people's money.
We live in a college town, and since events are cancelled, all my bookings have been too. I have a strict cancel policy, but have offered guests a credit towards a future stay. Most of the reservations fall outside the covid-19 policy and the guests still seem angry and want a full refund from me. Should I cave and give full refund?...I'm trying to be fair and offer a solution, but the guests only see their side of the situation. Any ideas please?
@Inna22 @Hilee0 I simply say I'm following the motherships policy. At least in my case, guests come as tourists and most likely won't return again. If they get upset, I will take my chances, they most likely won't come back anyways. I have fought for Airbnb in city meetings and have praised them, used them as a guest and stood up for them. At this point, no longer. They have a long road if they want to win my trust again.
@Hilee0 your guests had a choice. They could book with someone with more flexible policy, get insurance, etc.Do not forget that Airbnb might change their policy yet again and give all those people refunds. I also had tickets for my daughter's graduation that has been cancelled. I paid for an airfare for a bunch of family memebers and have useless airline credits in their names. This sucks for everyone. If this money is casual extra for you and you think those people need it more than you do- just give refunds. If this will put you in a financial hole, you need to worry about yourself just like those guests are only thinking about themselves. They are not actually losing anything, just don't get an experience. They have already spent this money. I think a credit to those who are being nice and nothing to those who are not.
Interesting article. Clearly puts across the perspective of hosts for a change, rather than believing the Airbnb PR spin. However, it's a shame that it focuses solely on multi-property hosts and forgets about the live in, homestay hosts that Airbnb was originally supposed to be about, who were never making big bucks out of this, just trying to eek out an independent income and pay the mortgage and bills on their home.