Hello Fellow Hosts!
Given there must be thousands of us dealing with intense smoke from the wildfires raging in the west, and am guessing not a few of us are dealing with cancellations as a result, am wondering if a discussion around how hosts are handling these cancellations would be useful?
I have a beach house and it is not an inexpensive rental. People come to our rental to enjoy the beach and nature (we are sited within 4000 acres of parklands and dunes)so I feel queasy about enforcing cancellation policies when the experience people are paying for would be severely compromised at no fault of either guest or host. Because of this, I've offered full refunds to guests that wanted to cancel due to degraded air quality, or re-booking at a later date, depending on what the guest wanted. We are pretty new, so wanting to build a business through a reputation for being considerate hosts. Figured in the long run people will appreciate the consideration and come back (and recommend our rental to friends), but am curious how other hosts are faring and handling the situation. Anyone have a discussion with Airbnb about recommended policy? Feels like when a guest cancels for personal reasons, a cancellation policy would be apt, but in a circumstance where there is significant degradation of environmental quality (if not force majeure), feels a bit harsh???
Looking forward to hearing about other's experiences and thoughts!
This is very decent of you. I suppose it all depends on your circumstances as well. From my point of view, the fact that we were all required to take a loss on our bookings in mid-March left me feeling flabbergasted and somewhat desperate in that I had already made credit card charges against income that I couldn’t recover. If any of my scheduled guests lost money due to Covid and Airbnb’s somewhat arbitrary way of handling losses, I simply felt the need to protect myself first (rightfully or wrongfully so). One guest called me personally and I was grateful for the direct communication. She assured me she would be booking again in a few months and she did.. Then the riots roll around, at which point I felt I was on much better financial footing and was happy to let a single mother and her daughter off the hook. I was gracious as I could be and I am sure that one day she will return. Now smoke and fire. I was grateful my guests this past weekend didn’t cancel so I didn’t have to face THAT problem, too! It’s always a tough call and I think it depends on how secure you are financially at the moment of cancellation. I guess earthquakes and floods will rain hell on us before 2020 closes out!
@Debra48- Funny, I wanted to say something about how I felt like I was in sort of a luxurious decision making position because i hadn't been up and running when covid hit, so didn't suffer the consequences of that calamity as did other hosts....then thought i was getting tangential, but i think you make a really good point- decisions about refunds really are impacted by financial footing. I think it's nice when we can afford to be graceful (and we had a really good summer, so we could afford that), but that is not always the case...I think we have to be careful to judge decisions because I'm guessing some hosts just can't afford to be 'gracious' and award full refunds...just unprecedented times. Another respondent mentioned trip insurance which, given these sorts of events are becoming far too normal, is starting to make good sense, both for guests and hosts. Here's hoping we've seen the worst of 2020! And thanks so much for your response- pamela
@Pamela853 @Good for you to do the right thing and refund your guests. I don’t live anywhere close to you or the fires but we have experienced very large forest fires in the past and you have my sympathies. I’ll do a rain dance for you and hope that some help from Mother Nature can put the fires out. Xx
@Katrina79- thanks so much for your input, as well as your rain dancing well wishes.!!!SO appreciated...you've helped me feel better about my policy (was sort of wondering if i was being foolish). many thanks!
@Pamela853 I would do exactly the same. I don't know if you were a host when COVID broke out, but many hosts were pretty bitter about having to refund people who were no longer able to travel. I felt like the lone voice of dissension. I think this is what should set Airbnb apart, the fact that hosts are regular people, not faceless, heartless corporations. I agree that perhaps there should be a better way that helps protect hosts and guests, like an optional travel insurance or something, especially as I think that we will see more and more events like this that will impact on travel in the future. Anyway, I think you've done the right and ethical thing. I am praying for you guys over there - we had our own similar situation here at the beginning of the year. It is unbearably devastating, especially for the forests and wildlife 😪
@Kath9- thank you so much for your thoughts and input; glad to hear the voice of a kindred spirit! I think yours is an excellent idea- some form of travel insurance that can protect both hosts and guests because you are so right...it seems catastrophic events are becoming the norm. I spent many an hour with a friend last year sewing up kangaroo and koala bags, and bat rolls to send your way. We felt pretty helpless watching the devastation in your country from the fires. Seems like it's become an annual game of 'who's next'. I do so appreciate your taking the time to weigh in...it's really helpful to know understanding and compassion doesn't equate with being foolish. Thank you!
Oh @Pamela853, that made me cry. These small acts of kindness... thank you for doing that. These fires are so unbearably sad. And you're right, they are predicted to get worse and worse, especially in places like Australia and California. Our summer is approaching, and everyone is worried. Will there be a repeat performance? We have many people here still living out of tents and cars. It's just awful.
On a more positive note, I just read this article in the Guardian:
@Kath9 THANK YOU, fantastic article. Hope. Something that has been in such short supply in our country. SO appreciate you forwarding. And yes, we are climate kin. Will be keeping eyes and heart on your country as we roll into winter and you into summer. Here's hoping for a quiet summer down under! Best, pamela
Your post reflects two things: You are into this business for the long haul and you care about the guest experience from the guest perspective. Good for you! Some hosts set up a business that is month to month and desperate. This puts them is a difficult position to deal with any set back by Mother Nature or by a bad guest.
I wish you best and hope that you will have the success you deserve.
Many thanks @Linda108 for your experienced perspective- especially appreciate your words reframing the operative to 'guest perspective'...so easy to fall into a trap of seeing things from the host side of things and your words will become an important foundation in how we build our business. Truly, thank you!
I would do the same. Also, if you said no, the guests could take it to support and get refunded anyway. So your line is the best. Here's to a brighter future. Let it rain.
Good to know @Sandra126, and yes...let it RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Funny, after nearly a month of smoke clogged skies, last night the smoke cleared and we saw stars. I nearly cried it was so beautiful. Hard to imagine how long I've taken a starry sky for granted. May these annual disasters teach us to be better caretakers of this planet. Thanks for your input!
We've had cancellations left and right- full refunds. On the other hand, we've had people reaching out from impacted areas looking for a safe place to stay (the smoky conditions are nothing compared to being surrounded by flames).
For those who can afford it, full refunds are a long term investment, I think. Some people have already rebooked 1-2 months out.
@Lenore22, thank you for your input...so good to hear from other hosts; as we are new just don't have much of a sense (outside of an internal feeling of what is fair) of how to handle this. So grateful to all the wise hosts who have responded! Woke up to clear air today, hope the same for you. Don't think I'll ever be able to take a clear sky for granted again. Be well!