HostGPO is advising all hosts to stay aware of Airbnb’s extenuating circumstance cancellation policy as it relates to the Coronavirus outbreak. Guests may cancel reservations due to general panic, hysteria, or cancellation of conferences- and later request inappropriate refunds. These types of unilateral cancellations do not qualify under Airbnb’s policy. The impact to your business could be devastating if you’re not prepared and aware of the terms. HostGPO has no issue with genuine emergencies requesting refunds, however we are also aware of guests abusing the policy to get unfair refunds.
The policy, which can be found here on Airbnb’s website, applies only when governments actually restrict travel to or from an area. Travelers impacted by cancellation of flights or requiring emergency medical treatment, were always covered by the policy. However they are required to provide documentation proving they are undergoing treatment and it’s always best to refer them to AirBNB to verify their documentation rather than review it yourself.
HostGPO is advising hosts to keep screenshots from the US State departments webpage relating to your cancelled guests departure location and the location of your rentals. Unless there is an actual travel restriction the guest is not entitled to a refund. These screenshots should have date and time stamps to prove there isn’t a travel advisory for that region.
Furthermore, even if the guest doesn’t request a refund at the time of cancellation they may change their mind and request a cancellation sometime in the future.
Keeping screenshots of both these pages will aid you in disputing any unfair refund requests made for cancellations that do not follow Airbnb’s own policy.
The coronavirus will undoubtably have a significant impact on the short term rental industry, and while we hope for the best, we suggest that vacation rental managers stay on top of this matter and start making contingency plans. There will be more cancellations of conferences and events that result in reservation cancellations.
If any hosts have tips or have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus, HostGPO wants to hear from you. Please reach out!
UPDATE – We received a recommendation to use https://www.stillio.com/ to automatically capture screenshots.
UPDATE – On March 14th, we wrote an open letter in response to changes to Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy that are hurting hosts by allowing guests to cancel whenever they want for any reason through April 14th.