Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2
1,028 Views

Hi I'm a super host with a strict cancellation policy who just lost $4k when a guest canceled a Thanksgiving trip at the last minute due to a positive COVID test result. I had no idea that policy was even in place and am totally shocked that Airbnb would make the hosts bear 100% of the cost for a guest getting sick--especially when guests may choose to have a higher risk by being unvaccinated but then still get a refund. Also the extenuating circumstance policy is supposed to be for unforeseeable events but surely getting sick from COVID is as foreseeable at this point as getting sick from the flu? 

 

I'm torn because I don't want to lose Airbnb as a platform but I also can't afford to lose large bookings at the last minute as I rely on the income for expenses like my mortgage. 

 

Does anyone have any ideas for how to get Airbnb to hear hosts? All I got was an email saying I could provide feedback through their airbnb.com/help/feedback form. I hope more hosts will speak out. There are lots of other ways Airbnb could handle this. Like providing travelers with options for COVID insurance or giving hosts the option to provide refunds for positive tests in their cancellation policies, and then the guest could decide whether to book or not. But their current way of handling it is just to require hosts to absorb any costs/lost revenue. 

24 Replies

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Ineke46  I can definitely understand your frustration here, but if you're choosing to use Airbnb as your listing service, you should really know what its policies are - especially ones that have been in place for over a year. I totally agree that it's ludicrous that someone gets an exemption from your cancellation policy because they tested positive for Covid, but I just don't understand how in December 2021 you were unaware that this was a loophole guests could use for a refund.  **

 

**[Comment removed in line with the Airbnb Nondiscrimination Policy and the Community Center Guidelines]

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2

Well it must be nice to be so well informed about everything that you can respond by insulting those of us who aren’t. If they did  proactive communication to hosts about this I certainly missed it. I lost tens of thousands of dollars when the pandemic first hit and I didn’t complain. And I understood the refund policy at the time but they didn’t communicate with hosts that after the cut off date for booking refunds that they were still providing full refunds for positive tests. And now getting COVID seems foreseeable so how is it an extenuating circumstance? And there is no way for a host to mitigate risk other than moving platforms. Which I’m absolutely considering. If you’re happy with the policy that’s great. All I’m suggesting is that hosts speak up because it doesn’t seem fair to me that we bear all the financial risk and cost for something that to your point has been in place a long time without revision. I would like to choose an option to not refund guests and allow the guests who don’t like that to choose an option to book a different property. Is that so crazy?

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Bari, Italy
Level 2

Io ritengo che tu abbia ragione. In qualche modo penso che la piattaforma Airbnb debba proporre una scelta esplicita dell'ospite tra un'assicurazione (a pagamento) specifica per copertura Covid o riconoscere all'host un rimborso (anche parziale) di quanto avrebbe dovuto ricevere. Questa situazione di pandemia non penso si fermerà presto, quindi dovremmo essere tutti aiutati a superarla. 

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Ineke46 

 

I don't think that @Andrew0 was trying to be rude. He was just pointing out that this policy has been in place for a long time and that it's important as hosts to keep up with Airbnb policies. Those frequently change (not just in these turbulent times) and many CS reps are not that informed of them, so it's really important for us hosts to keep up to date so that we can tell the less trained reps when they are wrong!

 

The CC is a great way to keep up to date with policies but, if you don't have enough time for that, as many don't, you can adjust your notification settings so that you get emails about policy changes. I don't normally subscribe to that, but these days, it's quite useful.

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2

Thank you! I updated my settings so that should help. And the original comment was actually rude but it looks like Airbnb edited it in line with their guidelines. 

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Lake of the Woods, VA
Level 2

You can look at it as losing money or gaining a possible returning guest.

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Daylesford, Australia
Level 10

Btw, you can still get it even when vaccinated. 

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2

I understand that but it’s far less likely. Why should I pay the cost for guests who haven’t even taken basic steps to minimize their risk?

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

Having tested positive for Covid 19 will impact a traveler's ability to board a plane or even enter some states.  While the person might not feel symptomatic, they are still able to contribute to the spread of the disease.  There is considerable financial burden for both the guest and host during these times.  The issue of the host bearing the brunt of the financial loss when EC is applied has been hotly debated.  One solution that has gained some support is requiring travel insurance.  Is that something you are willing to consider?  No matter what triggers the EC cancellation, covid test or heart attack, you are still out the money.  

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2

This is my point. If Airbnb wants to protect guests they should require travel insurance. But what is my option to protect myself as a host?

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Ineke46  The problem is that from what I have read, travel insurance first requires that the customer exhaust all other avenues of refund before the insurance will pay out. So if Airbnb has an EC policy which covers a positive Covid diagnosis, the travel insurance wouldn't pay out anyway. Airbnb would have to stop refunding guests outside the cancellation policy altogether, which they show no will to do.

 

Airbnb changes things all the time and doesn't notify hosts. So it's important to check the policies on a regular basis. And that's what participating in this forum is really good for, rather than only coming here if you have an issue. Hosts here are really good about posting "Heads up, fellow hosts" topics, to share some new Airbnb change they just ran up against.

 

And yes, if you can diversify, it's always good not to have all your eggs in one basket.

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Boulder, CO
Level 2

That's a great point on the travel insurance Sarah. Essentially the Airbnb policy renders it moot even if the guest does buy it. I do use other platforms as well. They don't have this policy in place--they allow guests to make informed decisions when the book the property based on the host cancellation policy. 

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

You are protected as a host -  if you become infected with Covid you are allowed to cancel penalty free too @Ineke46 

 

By the way Airbnb did notify hosts about this policy on its host updates and details about the policy are on its website .

 

I understand your frustration but the last thing we need is to be encouraging people with Covid to travel. 

if Airbnbs policy on this is a deal breaker for you definitely look at other platforms/promoting direct bookings . 

 

 

Re: Extenuating circumstances policy puts 100% of cost on hosts: please speak out

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Ineke46 @Sarah977 @Linda108 @Sandra126 @Andrew0 

Ooh Ooh Ooh I have an idea....

We could have a board made up of hosts that could advise Airbnb so that their policies are balanced between hosts and guests. We could call it the Host Advisory Board.

 

Now if the board were operating they could point out that insurance is now available for guests that pays out if they get Covid. What guests can't get cover for is if government travel restrictions stop them travelling. Sadly Airbnb have their policy wrong again.

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