Post by High Priestess on Sept 20, 2015 7:03:11 GMT
Watch out for this....
A host posted about a situation like this a while back, on another forum, I think Hosting 911. I am posting about it again just as a reminder to be aware of the consequences to any changes you agree to make to reservations, and because this just happened recently to a host whom I know.
Here is your situation: Your normal cancellation policy for stays less than 28 days is strict. You have a guest who booked a reservation of 28 days ( or more), say 2 months in advance. Now that guest wants to cancel the whole reservation, saying that they will not be in the area after all for that month. But for long term reservations like this, of over 28 days, a guest gets NO refund of the first months' stay if they cancel either before the reservation starts, or after they arrive. So the guest is upset, and hopes to get some type of refund. You decide to give them a partial refund, say a 50% refund, but only if you can rebook the dates, and the refund you give would be proportional to what you can rebook.
The guest thinks about that, and then, instead of cancelling the reservation, asks you if they can change the reservation to be just 2 weeks, instead of 28 days. HEre is where you need to be careful and thoughtful and make sure you understand what is happening. Here is a summary of the facts:
(1) Guest wants to cancel ENTIRE reservation, saying they will not be in the area at all that month.
(2) You offer a partial refund, but ONLY if you can rebook the dates.
(3) Guest then says they would like to change the reservation to 2 weeks only -- but wait, red flag, red flag -- guest previously said they would not be in the area at all that month.
(4) If you were to approve the change in the reservation from 28 days to 2 weeks, then the guest would:
(a) Automatically get a 50% refund (from the total original reservation cost for the original 28 day reservation), without you knowing if you can rebook the remaining dates.
(b) then be on a different cancellation policy (strict instead of long term) and now, if the guest now cancels the altered reservation that you just approved, the guest will get an additional 50% refund of those 2 weeks, with the result that the guest will automatically get a 75% refund of the original 28 day reservation, and thus entirely circumvent your intention of only refunding them up to 50%, and that only if you can rebook all the dates.
(5) Chances are high that if the guest originally stated that they would not be in your area that month because plans had changed, and now they say that they want to keep part of the reservation, that in fact they do not intend to come at all, and will simply take advantage of your acceptance of shortening the reservation, to not so honestly circumvent the refund process you outlined, and obtain a much larger refund.
This in fact did happen to a forum host who posted about it, but in a slightly different way. She had a guest book a stay, I think one of 9 days. She was on strict cancellation policy. The guest contacted her 5 days before the reservation was to start, and said he wished to change the reservation to different dates -- which were now say 15 days away. She had those dates open so she agreed to the reservation alteration. What she didn't think about, was that by making this change, the guest went from a situation where he would get ZERO refund (because he was cancelling on a strict policy less than 7 days from start date) to a situation where he would automatically get a 50% refund (new reservation start date is now 15 days off, so he is cancelling over 7 days in advance). ANd that is exactly the game the dishonest guest played. As soon as she accepted the reservation alteration, he cancelled the whole reservation and got a 50% refund, instead of the 0% refund he'd have gotten if she hadn't accepted the reservation alteration.
Moral of the story: BEWARE Of reservation alterations that change the amount automatically refunded (increasing it) or which change the cancellation policy so that guest could get more of a refund if they cancel. Think about whether the guest really wants to alter the reservation, or just cancel it.
Thanks Deborah, as always you are so caring and thoughtful and I appreciate you on keeping us up on the top of our game .
Thanks Deborah. You are always so helpful! .
Thanks Deb - this is a outstanding forum.
Merci Deborah. So useful.
I have a strict policy myself & somtimes wonder how much Airbnb is gonna uphold it. So far everything's worked out but they seem awfully sympathetic to guest hiccups. Where else could you book something & then get your money back?? Even if you booked a wedding venue, could you normally get all/half your money back?
Thanks Deborah! I remember reading that post - the guest requested to move the check in date a few days later, which put them into a better cancellation policy area, then cancelled.
Out of curiosity, how would you handle a request like this? Plans do change...just wondering how you weed out the wheat from the chaff on this.
*separate the wheat (metaphor mixup)
I just make the best use of facts plus intuition and my "gut sense" that I can in such situations. I am not likely to face many situations like the latter case of the 9 day reservation wanting to be moved up slightly in time, since I don't usually have a wide open calendar 1-2 weeks in the near future. I would also never allow alteration of a reservation less than 7 days from the start date, to a point further off in time, because of what I mentioned above about how one is less likely to be able to re-book dates in the near term over those in the far term. What I would do, is tell the guest that they are free to cancel that near-term reservation, and then book a whole different reservation. I would then offer them a possible full refund of the original reservation, once they cancel it, IF I can rebook the dates, less an administrative fee (that I impose, not Airbnb) of about $20 for the extra work it takes me to do all this fiddling around. I would advise them that they should cancel without delay if they hope to get a refund, as the longer they wait, the less likely someone else will book the dates. ----------------------------------------------------------------- In general, I think one should use one's intuition, as well as a good solid analysis of (1) what is the potential cost or loss to you if you accept the guest's suggested alteration and they then cancel that, (2) what does the guest stand to gain by the alteration, (3) the benefits of you offering them a partial to full refund if they cancel and you can rebook. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- I typically will offer a guest a full refund (less, as I say, my own "administrative fees") if they cancel and I can rebook the dates -- but if I don't rebook ALL the dates, their refund would be proportionate to what I can rebook. However, they will not get this refund until I not only rebook the dates, but am paid for those reservations. ------------------------------------------------ The former situation I described, about the guest wanting first to cancel, then alter a 28 day reservation, actually just occurred to a host who is a friend of mine, this week. She had no idea how to handle the cancellation much less the request to alter, so I helped her with it. I explained it to her much like I have above, and she was grateful for the insights. She did not want to offer a full refund if she could rebook all the dates, which is what I would have done, since that is more or less a "win-win" situation for both sides in my view, but she agreed to offer the guest a 50% refund if she could rebook all the dates, and less of a refund if less was rebooked.
I never alter a reservation unless it adds dates to a current reservation. If a guest wants to change dates or shorten the stay, I consider this to be a cancellation/new booking. I leave it to the guest to be prudent in planning their accommodation needs. Because I have the cancellation policy clearly posted on the listing itself, the guest has ample notice and should be careful that they book exactly what is needed. The risk that there may be changes required to the needs of the guest are foreseeable to the guest and therefore should be borne by the guest. The host should not bear this risk as these circumstances are foreseeable to the guest rather than to the host. Guests have the opportunity to purchase traveler's insurance should they want to protect themselves form these foreseeable circumstances.