Why you should never EVER cancel on an AirBNB Guest

Sid Was Here

Have you ever just had a bad feeling about a guest? We all have. Several times a year I get an inquiry and something just tingles on the back of my neck, telling me that this is a bad idea. Sometimes the guest is just looking for a place, other times the guest is already booked. Read below for Sid’s recommendations for handling these tricky situations.

Declining an Inquiry:

It’s never a good idea to decline an inquiry. AirBNB has an algorithm, and they reward hosts who do a great job, as evidenced by their review system. They also positively and negatively reward hosts who want to host. The best thing that you can do for your listing is to accept every single inquiry within 60 seconds. This shows that you’re motivated to host, and you will be rewarded with higher placement in the search results. AirBNB knows that guests who request to book homes who are either declined or not responded to right away tend to go book somewhere else, like Expedia, where there is no period where the guest is left wondering if they will have a place to stay or not.

We are all aware of instances in the past where hosts did not feel that AirBNB had their backs. But with the inquiry policy that’s still in place, AirBNB is allowing hosts to choose who stays in their homes, unlike the Hilton down the street. As hosts we do have control, but it’s important to work within the parameters of AirBNB as well.

One particular type of inquiry that we typically decline at Sid Was Here is an inquiry for filming on the property. In our experience, this isn’t as glamorous a process as it seems. Any production requires trucks full of equipment and many humans along to run it all. Lights and other backdrops and decorations need to be attached to walls, and this brings a very high likelihood of damage. We decline production companies with very few exceptions. Ideally, they’d like to book the home for the nightly rate, they may even ask for a discount.

At Sid Was Here, we politely invite them to use the home for a rate of multiple thousands of dollars. This way we aren’t declining the request, merely letting them know that if they really want the home for their production, the homeowner would need to have a significant reason to take the chance on damage and all of the traffic this production would bring.

Cancelling a booking:

Once a guest has booked your home, stopping them from coming is a totally different story. There will be times when guests become problematic even before arriving at the property. The host begins to wonder if the few hundred dollars are really worth getting in these instances. If a guest appears to be problematic, keep them communicating on the AirBNB platform. You’ll need this as evidence if something happens.

If you decide ultimately that the money isn’t worth it, you can ask the guest to cancel and offer to give all of their money back. This is often what the guest wants as well. I always recommend having them call AirBNB to cancel. AirBNB will call you to confirm that you are ok with the refund. As long as the guest initiates the process, you shouldn’t have negative repercussions on your account.

There will be times when you have to cancel on a guest. Make sure these are only times when you have no control. We had a situation where an owner sold a property. The new owner honored the bookings for the next 30 days, but was unwilling to honor a booking a few months into the future. We contacted the guest with our apologies and then called AirBNB for help with this situation. AirBNB asked for documentation of the sale, which we provided, and cancelled the stay without penalty. One other bit of advice for situations like this: be nice.

AirBNB service personnel and others in the travel industry tend to take a lot of verbal abuse. Always be kind when interacting with these hard working individuals. You won’t always get your way, but you’ll get the best out of people who are trying to help you if you are nice.

At the end of the day, we are in the service industry. We are here to help people, like them or not. Try to host each guest to the best of your abilities, like them or not.