New '100% refundable' cancellations

Level 10
Bundeena, Australia

New '100% refundable' cancellations

Airbnb cancellation policy has changed, and is now 100% refundable to guests - this advertised with a large banner on my listing page. Yet I had no notification of this MAJOR change, and am not happy with it. (I am a superhost in Sydney who has been on Airbnb almost 4 years). A call to support confirmed that yes, this '100% refundable' is their new policy, although I cannot recall any notification of this happening.

Now there is NO disincentive for guests to cancel, and with my policy set at Moderate this could happen up to 5 days ahead. This is not acceptable, and I have immediately changed my cancellation policy to Strict - which I suspect will reduce my bookings, the opposite effect to what Airbnb is hoping.
Other platforms such as Stayz and Tripadvisor do not support such policies, and their standard policy is to take a deposit that is forfeited in the case of cancellation. I will certainly be prioritising my listing on these platforms now.
29 Replies 29
Level 10
Mount Barker, Australia

@Belinda55.....Yeah, just another little 'tweek' to the system that they did not bother to involve us in.

I have just been through the official 'How can we help' section of Airbnb and there is absolutely no mention of it anywhere there, so Airbnb are not considering important enough to consult anyone on!

What happens when a guest instant books for three weeks time and then cancels 24 hours before the reservation the host going to be compensated for the loss of booking potential for the time that reservation was active.

I tell you what, I am getting really fed up with being shot in the foot by Airbnb....please can they start employing programmers with just a grain of commonsense!!!


It is up to the host to set their cancellation policy. If you are worried about a last minute cancellation you can switch to moderate or strict. From my understanding, what this changes is more for the guest benefit as they are getting their AirBnB fees refunded AS WELL as what the host charged. Before this change in policy they would get the host cost refunded and AirBnB would keep the 12% or so they charged. I always found that weird to begin with. Its like taking an item back to the store but the store charges a re-stocking fee.

@Zacharias0 Now the Moderate setting also allows 100% refunds. The only way a guest has any penalty for cancelling is to have Strict setting, which I have now set, although I don't really want such a large penalty for guests ... I don't think it is at all like taking an item back to a shop, unless the shop has only one item and a limited time for selling it!

@Robin4 The lack of communication does rankle, Airbnb must know this is not a trivial change. They are forever sending newsletters on how they are making things better, but on this change - nothing.

Sorry - it was Belinda responding there, was accidentally logged in to my husband's account!

Directly from the host newsletter - "The names of the cancellation policies themselves haven’t changed, so the policy you set—Flexible, Moderate, or Strict—will still show up for your guests. However, now when a guest makes a booking, they’ll see more information explaining the terms and refund cutoff dates for the policy you’ve chosen. We also changed Airbnb’s existing policy so that we now refund Airbnb guest service fees for cancellations, up to 3 times per year. This way, if a guest cancels within a fully-refundable window, the reservation—including guest service fees—will truly be fully refundable."


This doesn't change anything about my moderate policy - I think people are misunderstanding. It just means that if someone cancels 6 days before arrival, I will get nothing, just like I always would have with moderate but the guest will not be stuck paying the 12%. Airbnb fee. If they cancel within the 5 day window the regular  moderate terms apply meaning I will get 1.5 nights. It is ok by me if Airbnb want to give more information to guests about cancellation Windows and I think it is very fair for them to return their fee!

No misunderstanding here, I'm aware that the payment to me in the event of a cancellation is the same (zero payment). But the issue is that now there is no disincentive for guests to cancel prior to the 5 days (in the case of Moderate policy). Imagine a seasonal location, that has taken a booking months in advance, only to have it cancelled 5 days prior, maybe due to weather forecast or something, with no penalty for the guest. Not an acceptable risk for hosts. Other platforms allow more options, such as non-refundable deposit, or variable rates depending on cancellation policy.

This is our situation. We have one rental by the beach.  We can't afford to have cancellations.  We're raising our rate on AIRBNB and lowering it if the dates don't book with Homeaway.  That is the only way we can afford this change.  We have enough problems with our current Strict policy and people wanting to cancel.  Just to much hassle. 

Not getting their Airbnb fees back was a disincentive for people to cancel. Now there is none.


Now they can book on the off chance they may want to use your accommodation.  This is an incentive to even cancel and rebook the same property to get the last-minute discount if you offer one. Or to just have a last-minute look around for better deals. It is not good for owners as the strict booking setting is a bit over the top. 

This is simply to balance the rights and needs of guests. I have had hosts simply cancel reservations a week before my stay, throwing the entire vacation into chaos. It is absolutely fair that guests have some cancellation rights as well.


I have had this happen to me too, even a same day cancellation the day we arrived in Japan! But in fact hosts do not have 'cancellation rights', we are very severely penalised for any cancellations.

In over 5 years I have not cancelled any of my 400+ guests, and while I have been sympathetic to their needs, the ability to cancel without penalty 5 days prior to a stay is not manageable for me. So I reluctantly use the 'strict' cancellation setting, which I think is too harsh for guests. I'm simply suggesting that we need a bit more flexibility in how cancellation policy is managed.

@Anonymoushosts get docked $100 fee if they cancel. 

I have strict cancellation policy but i make my own decisions about refunds. I have had a hardship situation, builder cancellation at guests home and others.  Depending on the circumstances i send a refund by using the 'Send or request money' functionality.

@Wendy117 yes, that's my strategy too.

Former Community Manager
Former Community Manager
London, United Kingdom



Thanks for your comments here. I am sure many of you have seen I posted this information in another thread in the CC, but I thought it would be useful to also post this here. To address any worries you may have over a possible rise in cancellations, I just wanted to share with you that we have put in place two guardrails to help prevent unnecessary cancellations:


  • We’ve limited guests to a maximum of 3 fully refundable cancellations per year.
  • If a guests has overlapping bookings, even if only partially overlapping, service fees from those bookings are not refundable.

Also, I think it is important to provide a little more background to this and so to add, we've heard that guests are hesitant to book in the first place because of the penalties they face if their plans change. As a result though, these changes make guests feel more comfortable in making a booking and during our pilot of these changes, we did see that guests were more likely to book with hosts who choose a Flexible or Moderate policy.


I hope you find this information helpful.






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