I suspect this will not be popular but here goes anyway.
Given the Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances policy that existed before Covid 19 I do not believe Airbnb had any choice but to refund guests at 100% once the virus got going. In fact a significant portion of hosts also wanted to cancel to protect their health so probably fair all round.
Now Airbnb is offering hosts with strict cancellation policies approximately 12.5% of their booking revenues for March/April/May which, whilst a relatively small amount, is much appreciated.
The biggest loss for us is actually the bookings going forwards as we are relatively new to this and don't get bookings a long way in advance. I hope not even the loudest complainers feel this is Airbnb's fault - At the end of the day we are all (Airbnb, hosts and guests) in this together and we just have to recognise that we are in unprecedented times (at least in living memory) and should just celebrate our health while we can.
@Mike-And-Jane0 Thanks for the comment, this is a perspective I’ve yet to hear and I’d be interested in understanding if it is a fact. If so, it would probably put lots of minds at ease to validate that decision based on requirement vs. choice. “Given the Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances policy that existed before Covid 19 I do not believe Airbnb had any choice but to refund guests at 100% once the virus got going.”
The link below, if it works (I don't know how to copy URLs) is the original EC policy. The current policies are effectively the 'Circumstances that require special review' In my opinion Airbnb have just supplied a generic solution to this until the end of May 2020. If I were a guest I would be very unhappy if the epidemic disease or travel restrictions section did not cover my trip.
Hope this helps.
The problem with this theory is that in the EC, epidemic disease falls under the category of cases that require special review, i.e. "our specialised team will review each case to confirm that you’re directly affected."
Yes, it actually says that, however...
That is NOT what Airbnb have been doing. They are issuing refunds to any guest, regardless of why they cancelled, where they are travelling from or to or whether their dates fit the timeline set. They are refunding guests who never applied for extenuating circumstances and guests that don't qualify for their own COVID-19 policy. Out of my four cancellations, only one qualified and that was only after the 30th March update (she was told prior to 30th March that she would also get a full refund). Everyone was refunded regardless, even if no contact had been made with the guest or host.
The reasons for this are probably at least three-fold.
1. Airbnb is using the refunds as a massive PR campaign.
2. Once Airbnb set this campaign in motion, the floodgates were open and who knows how many guests were up in arms if they did not qualify for the EC policy and full refund. This is where the PR starts to go wrong with guests, not just with hosts.
3. Their call centres are inundated. The easiest thing to do both to placate the guests and to reduce the number of cases to deal with is to just refund the guests regardless of whether they qualify or not.
Now, from a business perspective, perhaps that is the right thing to do, perhaps it is the only thing for them to do from a business perspective, but please don't tell me it is ethical. It's not. If you make policies, you need to stick to them, not bypass them and then stick the finger up to the host because you DON'T CARE about breaking your own policies.
I agree with you cos I feel that we are the same boat!
Some hosts can not have empathy with hosts that has more then one listing.
Do not believe that from the business perspective it was the right thing to do from the part of Airbnb.
They are making a huge mistake.
Airbnb is destroying their "army" of good and faithful hosts. It is no use to preserve clients if in the future they may not have good accommodations to offer!
See Susan and Mine´s opinion on this posts
I agree with you, Airbnb is making a huge mistake, now at least 80% of the hosts will open their eyes and begin to see they can't trust Airbnb any longer and will not wait for their NEXT PR stunt before beginning to diversify their income streams by posting in other channels, and then you will see Airbnb to begin turning around and finally begin to do something real to attract and benefit hosts and probably begin to show some appreciation for everything we do to keep our guests happy.
The thing that would worry me most is that Airbnb when issuing refunds in actual cash or in vouchers for guests from March 14th-May 31st, in essence they are removing a booking from one host and then throwing the 'potential guest' back into the general pool so now all those bookings are subject to one's competitors, once again.
Granted my place has its unique draw; nonetheless, I am not taking anything for granted. I started to move all my Airbnb guests slated to come in April to a later day back in March, as well as the May ones, knowing quite well Airbnb was extending their April 14th dateline. In my way of thinking, I rather keep an existing reservation (bummer that is in the future), then chance on getting a replacing one in the future.
Hosts also had NO control over COVID-19. Hosts who support the full refund policy must have other sources of income or don't heavily rely on their Airbnb income. Another fallout: The new Extenuating Circumstances policy is causing Guests to try to game the system. We have a guest who wants to cancel his reservation scheduled in June. Since his booking falls into our regular strict cancellation policy and he will only receive a 50% refund, he has decided to wait to see if Airbnb ends up extending its "eligible reservations" policy dates again, past May 31. He isn't coming either way and in the meantime, our calendar is blocked! Once again, Hosts are getting screwed—not by COVID-19, by Airbnb.
I agree that many are unjustly taking out their frustrations on Airbnb, who is obviously not responsible for the loss the virus has caused us all.
I also agree that a 12,5% cancellation fee, for "strict" reservations, is a small but minimum token that helps take a bit of the sting away and lets us perhaps give something to our staff or help maintain our property ready to list again after the virus.
My main regrets about the handling of the issue are:
- How did ABB not think of a minimal token cancellation fee at the time when they sent the "invite to cancel" email to guests?
No thought was given to hosts at that stage. Which is I believe the reason for the emotional lashing out we see on these forums.
- Messaging and publicity about the cancellation policy have now moved the goalposts in the STR industry.
- The crisis only exacerbated the issues in the ABB cancellation policies, which were already quite biased in the guest favor.
Best wishes to everyone and I hope the industry bounces back as quickly as possible.
Regardless of the current situation, I understand Airbnb's stance on issuing full refunds to guests in spite of hosts original cancellation policies. Additionally, most travel insurance policies don't cover pandemics. As a single parent of a child on the spectrum whom I homeschool, I have worked freelance for years. In recent years the stock market excelled and went on to reach all-time highs, yet my clients one by one, tightened their event marketing budgets and I became more and more dependent on my Airbnb income. As a matter of fact, I even began listing a 2nd bedroom in my home to better support my expenses. My listings, which are normally booked sold, have lost nearly all future reservations (March, April, May) due to this coronavirus pandemic and I suspect that further reservations will also be cancelled.
Additionally, back in January, when all was well in the world, I booked a summer trip for my son and I. That trip is scheduled to begin at the end of June. Figuring that I could book the rest later, I had only booked one of my Airbnb stays for that trip because it is in a popular destination and accommodations prices get crazy; thus, I chose to book a less expensive Airbnb accommodation early before prices got out of reach.
Now that I am looking at having nearly no income for the next few months I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to cancel that entire trip (flights & accommodations) so that I may use the money to keep a roof over my head. Just as Airbnb is slowly expanding the window for authorized cancellations, so are the airlines; thus, I wait. These are uncertain times but we, along with corporations, are all trying to figure things out as best we can. That said, when things get back to normal, I totally plan to continue sharing my home by hosting on Airbnb and I hope each of you will do the same.
Every good wish...
@Mike-And-Jane0 I agree with your assessment. Despite all the talk about travel insurance, this pandemic is the text book definition of force majeure. Every insurance policy in the world has a clause that absolves the insurer in this very situation. AirBnB's EC policy is their version of this clause.
On March 15, I contacted all of my guests with future bookings and offered full refunds regardless of check in date as I believe this situation will be with us for several months. It sucks and really hurt my bottom line, but ethically I could not encourage people to travel internationally during a pandemic, nor could I punish them financially for circumstances out of their control. I also took this decision for business reasons:
1. To give my guests a stress free customer service experience at a very stressful time and hopefully encourage them to book with me when they can travel again. I'm guessing this is also guiding AirBnB's decision to offer full refunds.
2. To clear my calendar of unstable bookings and shift my focus to long-term stays for local guests who are not (yet) subject to travel restrictions or mandatory 14 day self isolation.
I was not anticipating AirBnB offering any compensation, so the 25% of cancelled bookings is welcome; at this juncture I'll take whatever money I can get. I fully expect AirBnB to continue to push out the check in window for guests to receive a full refund; I offered my guests full refunds regardless of check in date to get out ahead of this eventuality. I hope they do not push out the booking date as any guest booking after Mar 15 should be very well aware of what they are signing up for.
I believe this situation is also an opportunity for AirBnB hosts to come up with a strategy for collectively mitigating the effects on their incomes of a sudden market downturn. This may be something like a co-op of hosts where one can opt in by directing 1% of revenue to a fund that is then invested by a board, elected by the co-op members. Members experiencing significant income loss due to events out of their control could then be compensated from this fund, as long as they meet the criteria developed by the board, as directed by the co-op members. The advantage to this is there would be no force majeure clause as would exist in an insurance policy, and it would be directed by the AirBnB hosts themselves, not by AirBnB management. The downside is AirBnB may look at this as a backstop for hosts and not offer any compensation in the event of another COVID like event, though some may not see this as a downside.
That's my 2 cents worth. Or 0.5 cents in this market.