My family decided to vacate the house they live in throughout the year during the summer to rent it out and help pay the bills. The property is located in southern Europe in a region that’s highly sought after during the high season. After accepting reservations booked by guests months in advance we had to turn many away, including requests from other guest on alternative booking sites. We had many added expenses getting the place ready, including cleaning as well as check in and check out fees.
Two consecutive guests decided to cancel their booking at the last minute for medical reasons. (for two separate reservations); the second guest cancelled his booking days AFTER he was supposed to check in. In spite of us having a “strict” cancellation policy, Airbnb agreed to reimburse them for the full cost of their booking leaving us with an empty house at the last minute in the midst of the high season. To justify their decisions, Airbnb only sent us the link to their extenuating circumstances policy, which lists a very wide variety of circumstances left broad and vague on purposes. In this instance, given that both guests had emailed saying their cancellation was due to medical issues, we asked Airbnb which objective criteria had been applied and the list of documents provided by guests to justify the fact they had to cancel at the last minute. In spite of our repeated queries, Airbnb refused to provide any objective criteria used to determine the circumstances of the cancellations. Of course they make these arbitrary decisions without losing any money themselves. Hosts end up losing money without having any say in the decision. These cancellations should be handled with a strict process similar to those applied by travel insurance policies. Hosts are NOT protected by Airbnb and this certainly doesn’t feel like a community.