As part of its sweeping product update last month, Airbnb announced a change to its cancelation policy. The change, which was partly inspired by industry-wide ripple effects wrought by the pandemic, intends to make cancelations more flexible for both hosts and guests.
Airbnb’s cancelation policies are largely set by hosts, which can make nixing a reservation kind of thorny—your ideal getaway might have a strict policy, meaning you’ll still be charged a portion of your reservation fee even if you have to cancel for legitimate reasons. The change, however, aims to give hosts and guests alike more wiggle room, with a new category added to its cancelation tier. Even so, being afforded a bit more cancelation power is no reason to use this more accommodating policy to cancel your reservation like a jerk, potentially leaving a host in the lurch.
Airbnb’s usual cancelation policies function on a scale: flexible, moderate, strict, and longterm (there’s also a “super strict” category for stays longer than 30 and 60 days). Refunds are contingent upon when you cancel, and, with some of the stricter policies, you can expect to kiss at least a portion of your money goodbye in the event that you abort a reservation on short notice. Of course, if any party is affected by COVID-19, many of Airbnb’s previous policies go out the window: If someone is sick, they have to provide proof of their positive test result, and then the company will cancel the reservation with a full refund. (Check out the company’s policy in detail if you’re curious about every contingency).
The new policy adds a fresh tier into the mix. Airbnb is calling it the “firm” cancelation policy, and it lives somewhere between strict and moderate. The hospitality giant elaborates on the policy:
Under this new policy, guests booking far in advance have better flexibility to cancel a booking for free, up to 30 days before check-in. In pilot tests of this policy, our data showed that Hosts who switched from strict to firm, saw that overall bookings were boosted by an average of nine percent*.
It’s more lenient, which—as the company’s internal data suggests—is a good thing that guests find popular. But the update and greater leeway doesn’t provide guests with carte blanche to throw all cancelation etiquette out the window.
There are things you can do to make your canceled reservation sting less for your host—and if you can, you should. Canceling within a reasonable timeframe (or as soon as you know you’ll need to) is always a best practice. But if something happens last minute that compromises your ability to travel—like an injury, a car malfunction, or an accident—be honest and upfront with your host.
Provide evidence of what’s preventing you from traveling, if possible, as that will be your best bet in securing your host’s understanding (and a refund if customer service has to get involved). Your message should be written thoughtfully and sympathetically to your host, who likely had to make some arrangements and pay cleaning staff in anticipation of your arrival. Don’t just say, “Hey, we need to cancel; how can I get my money back?”
It’s incumbent upon you to provide a legitimate reason as to why you can’t physically be there, and something to the effect of, “I forgot about my niece’s birthday,” won’t really cut it. On the flip side, however, it’s okay to be prepared to fight for a refund if your host stubbornly refuses to hear you out. As has been very well publicized, some hosts do their utmost to rake in cash at the expense of travelers, so try to avoid that by picking a host with a good rating and reasonable policies.
Source link: lifehacker.com