Thank you @Betsy13 I really appreciate you sharing your experience in such detail. The seller in my case is an experienced host with multiple listings and I can understand why he wants to protect what he has built up. They have found themselves in a very similar situation to you, except I believe they have many more post close bookings than in your case. I completely appreciate how your arrangement could feel uncomfortable, not to mention the confusion and impact to the guest experience. Personally I am not comfortable entering into such an arrangement without written agreement about how to handle the bookings, and you're right that adds a lot of complexity. These are all things I'm glad I have learned now if I ever decide to embark on being a host myself. 🙂
At first I didn't really understand why Airbnb would not be accommodating for this kind of thing, but in reading through their terms and various threads on the subject I can now better understand why they take this line, even if I don't fully agree with it. They claim it's about protecting the guest experience, so in that spirit you can argue a host shouldn't knowingly subject a guest to potential future disruption to their plans. Hence a host should stop listing if they are considering selling like others in this thread have suggested. It's in the host's own best interests for their status on Airbnb, but more importantly it's about doing the right thing for their guests, who may be loyal repeat customers.
I hear what you're saying about the downside if you stop accepting new bookings, but if the owner is looking to profit from a red hot real estate market, then they probably need to give some on the STR market in return. At least with Airbnb it seems you don't get to have it both ways. From what I can tell VRBO seems much more forgiving to the owner in this respect. Furthermore, Airbnb offers more lenient cancellation policies up to 24 hours beforehand in fact. So a host could always just change their policy to make it easier for the guests to alter plans. Again, you could argue it comes back to whether the host is looking out for their guests or themselves. Airbnb forces them to put the guest first.
I'm glad you got to work through your situation even if it was frustrating, and again thank you for sharing. I will happily update with how my situation pans out for others to learn from.
@David7664 The thing is, you can't just pass guests on to a new host as if they were part of the furnishings. Guests book based in large part on the reviews. If there is a change in ownership, guests have no way of knowing if the new host will be a good one. It's like if you ordered a leather jacket, because you'd had a jacket from that company before and were super pleased with it. It wouldn't be okay if you just got sent a substitute jacket made by some other company, that might not fit right, or have inferior workmanship.
And an Airbnb business is the host's business- the business isn't the property. The simplest, most basic listings can have pages of glowing 5* reviews, because the host is attentive, the property is kept super clean, it's comfy and even better than advertised. And some supposedly luxury properties can have poor reviews because the host doesn't run his business well, it's less than clean, messages and issues aren't responded to promptly.
What the current owner should do is contact the already booked guests and explain the situation, asking if they want to keep the reservation with you, the new host, and if so, getting the guests to cancel (so the host doesn't receive penalties) and reimbursing them in full, including the Airbnb fees they paid, so they can rebook with you if they like.
I have also read posts where hosts contacted Airbnb, providing documentation that the property had been sold, and Airbnb dealt with the cancellations and refunds without penalties to either host or guest. He just can't clutter up that request with asking them to transfer the bookings, which they won't do.
@Sarah977 I think we're saying the same thing and I agree with you completely. I have no interest in buying his STR business which he has worked hard to earn. I would just like to buy his condo. 🙂
So I agree with your suggested approach. However what I understand from reading these threads is Airbnb won't refund their service fees (or the occupancy tax for that matter according to other threads on this forum).
I know there are apparently stories of others having better luck getting full refunds, but according to @Betsy13 she tried this and Airbnb refused. Either way I agree the seller still needs to at least give it a try.
@David7664 Right, Airbnb probably won't refund the service fees. That's why my suggestion was that the current host cover any losses incurred by the guests. That would be the ethical thing to do, considering he had been greedy in continuing to take bookings when he had the place for sale.
@Sarah977 I understand your suggestion and agree it's still the best approach. But as best I can tell (having this conversation third hand through our respective realtors) the current host is trying to cover his losses. Which is why we have a sticking point.
@David7664 Sounds like he wants to have his cake and eat it, too 🙂 His only losses would be covering the service fees, which doesn't sound like such a huge deal to me, considering he's due to see a shwack of money from selling. There's no other losses, because he won't be able to provide any service to the guests if he doesn't have the prooerty to host them at anymore.
Yes, I learned a lot from the situation. I understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution and that there are multiple considerations for corporate Airbnb, hosts, guests, and potential buyers/sellers.
As I said, it was my mistake to assume that Airbnb would do what they had done before. My frustration was that I tried to do things the right way. I researched my scenario and read through all the same threads referenced by @Sarah977 and made a plan accordingly. I stopped taking bookings before listing and when we entered a contract to sell the property, we specifically contracted to protect our post-closing guests (I did NOT treat my guests like furniture....). I communicated with all my guests well in advance of their stay and gave them a myriad of options. All of them said they really wanted to stay at THAT property, no other; that they did not want to cancel and rebook (despite my offer to cover all fees); and that they wanted to have their booking transferred to the new buyer (who wanted to host them). So I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me when Airbnb said, "No. It doesn't matter that we did it before. No, there's nothing in writing about this. We just won't help you."
It's easy to say how others should conduct their business. I know the real estate market is "white hot" now. It was not when I listed. I listed my property in a market depressed by the pandemic in a county where similar properties had taken YEARS to sell. Fortunately, my property was viewed as highly valuable to my particular buyer not because it was "just a house" but because of its location, its aesthetic, its amenities, and because of the STR business that I had built up with blood, sweat, and tears.
@David7664 , I hope your seller has better luck than I did and that you both can reach a resolution that is mutually beneficial. You are right that Vrbo is generally more even-handed with property owners. Unfortunately, with Airbnb, it feels like they view guests as their customer and property owners as their chattel.
@Betsy13 it sounds like you definitely tried to do things the right way. I'm sorry Airbnb weren't more helpful in your case.
Like I said, I'll let you know what happens in our case. Thanks again for the comments and advice.
@Betsy13 It definitely sounds like you tried to do everything very professionally, including being respectful and caring about the guests. I wasn't implying that you regarded the guests as furniture you could pass on. You obviously didn't.
But I have read posts before where hosts who were selling their property didn't seem to understand that the booked guests were at least owed a non-money-losing opportunity to cancel the booking if they didn't want to take a chance on a new host with no reviews.
So...bottom line. Selling my property & I have 26 upcoming reservations. What is proper way to do this.
If I cancel them & the new buyer sets up a new website & they want to transfer then they can.
But what about me cancelling all these reservations? I have other properties on Airbnb & do not
want these cancellations to count against me (I am a Super Host on all properties)
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@Connie17 That's a lot of reservations to take care of. There is no easy way to transfer reservations from one host to another, unfortunately.
The person purchasing the property will need to set up a new listing for the space. Then I would send all of your guests a message letting them know what is happening: that you're sellling the property and giving them the link to the new listing. You will likely get some people cancelling of their own accord. After you've given guests a few days to read the message, you will need to contact Airbnb and let them know that the property has been sold and you would like to cancel all the reservations without penalty. The guests can then re-book with the new host.
When I was selling my property I set my listing so I only took bookings within three months of arrival to minimise the risk of accepting bookings I couldn't honour @Connie17
If you didn't want to have cancel guests and take the hit - this is the best approach .
hopefully you've stopped taking longer term bookings now .
if you can't swop these guests into one of your other properties it sounds like you will need to learn the lesson and take the hit .
@Alexandra316 why do you feel Airbnb will cancel these 26 bookings penalty free