When Cancellations occur

It’s one of those things, it’s not if they will occur it’s WHEN they occur.

When you are trying to get your business off the ground, cancellations invariably take some of wind out of your sails. The first time is always a bummer, no matter what the reason.

Don’t worry, you will survive! Photo by Challen taken at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

A guest can cancel for a myriad of reasons, here’s a laundry list that I’ve experienced. These were all booked stays until cancelled.

  • Our meeting moved to San Francisco (from Palo Alto)
  • Our contractor extended the time on remodeling our house (so cannot fit the open dates)
  • Our workshop was postponed.
  • Our sponsor will not reimburse for a BNB in your city
  • Our child’s surgery will be rescheduled.
  • Our family members cannot make it so we no longer need your place.


So what do you do when you get cancellations?

Basically nothing rash.

But it is always good policy to be courteous in your response and acknowledge their cancellation. Remember, they could be booking at a hotel and a hotel does not give a peep at all how many cancellations they get, at least the person in charge of guest relations still get a paycheck.

You, as a host, are in the Hospitality Business, and do not forget that.

Do not blame the guest since changes of plans are part of life and part of being a host.

The toughest ones though are the ones that come within a week of their booking, especially if they booked several days. Most guests will offer an explanation so be sympathetic.

You’d imagine that some people would book several BNB’s to secure a place to stay until they settle on the right one. That would drive you nuts, but fortunately, I am not aware of this happening once someone books. I’ve gotten several inquiries with non-committal guests, but they usually disappear without further word and then I need to formally “decline” their inquiry.

Another thing I often see from those fishing inquiries is they tend to look like they been copied and pasted, without your name or their name.


There are various cancellation options for the AirBNB’r, the common ones are from FLEXIBLE to STRICT.


As those names imply, you can let someone cancel with a FLEXIBLE Policy, up to 24 hours before check-in time for a full refund. Real simple.


if you go to the other extreme to STRICT the guests needs to cancel 7 days before check-in, not only that, but STRICT requires a 50% only refund if those cancellations occur before 7 days – A full refund may be had IF the booking at at least 14 days away from check-in  AND the cancellation is executed with 48 hours of booking. Nice for hosts who want guests who are really sure of their commitments.


Currently we offer the middle of the road option which is MODERATE

With a Moderate Cancellation Policy, you can receive a full refund as long as it is made outside of 5 days prior to the check-in date and time. We figure that most people like that kind of flexibility but we really don’t like playing chicken with the reservations by waiting until  only  24 hours for someone to cancel. While we may lose a couple of reservations that way, it becomes one of the peace of mind issues.

Just FYI, I’ve been tempted to go to STRICT, but not so much to FLEXIBLE. We’ve maintained a Moderate policy, partly due to the fact that we’ve had a pretty good occupancy history.

AirBNB offers some even stricter policies, but since they seem to be uncommon  I am electing to not to cover those today.



My last suggestion is, consider cancellations as serendipitous, you don’t know who the next guest is who will step in the empty slot or what your life may be made better due to the change.

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