Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Underhill, VT
Level 3
927 Views

I don’t think it is! Currently, under AirBnB’s extenuating circumstances policy, any guest with Covid can cancel a reservation and get a full refund just days before their stay and the host gets nothing, regardless of the host’s cancellation policy. This just happened to me. A guest said they had Covid 2 days before their arrival. I presume they provided documentation of that to AirBnB and the reservation just disappeared from my calendar without so much as a word from AirBnB. Apart from the disrespect that shows to the host, this seems blatantly one sided. The host assumes all the risk in operating in the Covid environment. I generally cannot replace a booking a couple of days in advance and thus am running a loss for those days.

 

In my opinion, the risk should be shared more evenly by perhaps allowing for a 50% refund. Why should a guest be completely free of responsibility if they get Covid? No other illness is considered an extenuating circumstance by AirBnB. Did the guest behave responsibly prior to their travel to minimize possible exposure? Were they vaccinated? In AirBnB’s own words under their extenuating circumstances policy they state the following: “After the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the extenuating circumstances policy no longer applies because COVID-19 and its consequences are no longer unforeseen or unexpected.”  Thus they consider any other illness, travel disruption, border closing, etc “no longer unforeseen” but the possibility of getting Covid is still considered unforeseen? That seems quite absurd to me!

 

What do other hosts think about this?

13 Replies

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Mark769 It's wrong as you can get insurance for Covid but not for travel restrictions (which are not an EC for cancellation. Having said that it is what it is and is the choice we make when using Airbnb to get us bookings.

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Greenville, SC
Level 10

I agree that it seems unfair to hosts, but I think Airbnb doesn’t want to do anything to encourage people with Covid to travel and spread it around. Someone who suspects they have Covid, but knows they can’t get a refund, might stay in your place anyway and not tell anybody, since there is a financial incentive to do so.

 

Of course, you can say this about any illness. People shouldn’t travel while sick and contagious. I agree with you, though, that at this point, Covid shouldn’t be singled out, especially with this new, milder variant. Let’s hope that it won’t be long before Covid will be treated like any other coronavirus, i.e. will be subject to the same official guidance and will be considered no more serious than a cold. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

Both hosts and guests can cancel penalty free  if they have Covid @Mark769  so you could argue it's fair . 

 

I've had 8 guests  do this in the last few weeks . 

Bottom line it's a T&C We sign up to when using the platform  to market out STR business . There are other platforms you can use or market your listing directly if this policy is a deal breaker for you. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Mark769  I agree that it feels unfair that the  host must accept a total loss when a guest tests positive. But I wouldn't lay the blame on the guests for this policy. Even if they'd taken out travel insurance, no insurer will pay out a claim when the customer is eligible for a refund by other means. And if someone does the responsible thing by getting tested before travel and choosing to quarantine instead of spread the virus further, it's a really bad look to say they're Irresponsible for getting the virus in the first place. Nobody who's trying to profit from travel during a pandemic has entirely clean hands here.

 

For what it's worth, the current EC policy is not nearly as bad for hosts as the one they had before the pandemic, when any kind of sickness or injury could be used for a refund. It still leaves a loophole that's easy to abuse - I seriously doubt their service contractors are going to great lengths to check that every claim of infection is backed up by certified documents. But as a third-party broker, all they really have to do is decide that a booking is unacceptably risky or problematic for them to cancel it, even while it's in progress.

 

 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Underhill, VT
Level 3

Actually, I am am not at all laying any blame on the guest. The purpose of my post was to  point out what I feel is an inconsistent and excessively punitive policy towards hosts by AirBnB . Hosts being the resource that Airbnb often states are their most valuable asset. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Mark769  Airbnb has all sorts of PR rhetoric which bears no resemblance to reality. They really don't seem to have any care for hosts- they make their money on guest service fees, so that is their focus- retaining and gaining guests.

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Underhill, VT
Level 3

@Sarah977 wrote:

@Mark769  Airbnb has all sorts of PR rhetoric which bears no resemblance to reality. They really don't seem to have any care for hosts- they make their money on guest service fees, so that is their focus- retaining and gaining guests.


Yes, sadly, after about 8 years of hosting and a handful of very disappointing experiences with AirBnB, I have found this to be generally true. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Haverford, PA
Level 10

More generally speaking, I think the existence of the "extenuating circumstance" is totally unfair. An ideal solution is that Airbnb should, at the time of booking, offer all guests the option of a travel insurance at a small cost to cover those unexpected situations and guests can choose to decline the insurance, which means that they give up the possible coverage.

 

I agree with @Andrew0 that this might pose a financial incentive to guests to hide their COVID situation. However this cannot be the reason to put all the loss to hosts and there are many solutions to this. For example Airbnb can mandate a COVID insurance to all reservations to cover the unexpected sickness, or ask guests to provide test result for travelling (just like all airline companies are doing). 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Halifax, Canada
Level 3

I feel for you @Mark769. We just had the same thing happen to us, and it's so frustrating. I explicitly had the conversation with the guest in advance of accepting their one-month booking to make sure they understood the requirements to enter Canada and our cancellation policy. This was amid the Omnicron surge, so I thought it was risky of them to book overseas and wanted to do what I felt was my due diligence. Sure enough, three days before their arrival, one of the guests tests positive for COVID, and they can't travel. Airbnb emailed me at 2 am to notify me, then at 5 am, they said that since they hadn't heard from me yet, they would cancel the reservation. I was shocked! When I responded, they said they couldn't help it and couldn't support my time zone or the time I woke up. 

 

I certainly don't want people travelling if they are ill and agree with @Pat271. However, the rules to enter a country are known at this point. The risk of contracting COVID is high and broadly stated. If a guest is willing to accept those risks by travelling, I think they should bear some of the risks. My month was reserved for them; it's less likely we will replace that booking in the short term. 

 

@Nanxing0 I thought I recalled in a recent Airbnb update mention of Airbnb travel insurance, which is how these situations should be handled at this point in the pandemic. I have compensated many guests over the years for personal extenuating circumstances, but the COVID play is getting a bit tiresome at this point.

 

I called to make a complaint and was invited to provide feedback at www.airbnb.com/help/feedback. I'm sure it goes into an abyss. However, if you feel sufficiently frustrated or inclined, opinions about the policy can be shared there. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Naples, FL
Level 1

We just had a guest cancel less than 16 hours prior to scheduled check in.  Bottom line is insurance is the only answer.  Airbnb's competition stresses this and does not make the host bear the entire financial burden.   Covid has been around for 2 year, guests should be buying travel insurance and that insurance should be coverage so that hosts are not just devastated by these late cancelations.  As for us (3 super host -which is a meaningless tag they give you- properties).  I think we will dump airbnb in favor of the competition.  They seem to value their hosts at least a little more.

 

Sad airbnb was once a good choice.

 

@Michaelsammons

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Haverford, PA
Level 10

@Ashley264 The travel insurance Airbnb mentions is far from what I was talking about. For now all that Airbnb has done was to put a sentence "somewhere" saying that guests have the option to buy travel insurance, while I seriously doubt if ANY Airbnb guest has ever actually purchased travel insurance at all. And Airbnb has never offered or helped arrange travel insurance -- they should at least partner with a provider to incorporate the travel insurance into the booking process, and helps handle claims. 

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Madison, WI
Level 2

Airbnb needs to offer guests travel cancellation insurance ASAP.

Re: Is AirBnB’s Covid 19 Cancellation Policy Fair to Hosts?

in
Placencia, Belize
Level 10

I see Airbnb as paying for its own 'insurance' when it comes to guests. We book every single day of the year (mostly via Airbnb) and every so often they allow a cancellation that shouldn't be allowed and is really a scam. We use those time as our break times between hosting back-to-back guests through the year.

 

We no longer care what Airbnb does for we no longer view any booking of our place via Airbnb as a sure thing.

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