Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

Booking Cancelled Suddenly Without Any Reason

I booked an apartment in London in mid September. According to Airbnb, the host was new; she joined Airbnb recently, and the platform showed that she replied to messages in an hour. We liked her apartment so we wanted to give it a try.

As instant booking was available, we booked her apartment and told her the time we would come to London. Unfortunately, we waited for a week and she did not reply. We sent her another message asking for her confirmation. Again, there was no reply from her.

Then, we started to contact Airbnb support and finally they were able to contact her. She explained to us that her mobile was not working so she was not able to reply to us. More importantly, she confirmed that her apartment would be available and would give us more information tomorrow.

However, again, we have waited for another week and we received no information from her. When we almost wanted to send her another message and ask Airbnb for help again, I suddenly saw a message in my mailbox from PayPal that I received a refund from Airbnb. However, there was no other formal notifications from her or Airbnb telling me that my booking has been cancelled and explaining why.

I had to log in to my Airbnb account, check my booking and see a message that my booking has been cancelled. I feel like I am serving Airbnb but paying them a service fee at the same time. I took responsibility for confirming with the host that the apartment would be ready and I spent a lot of time checking and sending her messages to ask for her replies.

Eventually, my booking was cancelled without any reason and formal notification and I was forced to look for another apartment myself. Many apartments are not available anymore or became much more expensive.

Nine Months of Holiday Plans Ruined by Host

Our host cancelled our nine month pre-booked reservation just two weeks prior to our arrival. Although our planned stay met all of the many restrictions this host listed as conditions for occupancy and without acceptable communications, this person abruptly terminated our long-awaited vacation plans stating she was uncomfortable with our plans due to COVID-19.

Our travel plans met all health guidelines and moral practices of this pandemic. As a volunteer leader of an organization of medical professionals providing humanitarian assistance to people around the world, I of course fully endorse and practice the most strict standards in response to the current pandemic and our anticipated travel plans did not in any capacity conflict with regional health guidelines or rules.

As a courtesy I informed the host that our upcoming plans would include my spouse and I occupying the three-bedroom (maximum of six guests allowed) home with friends, a family of four joining us for three nights of our week-long vacation and upon their departure another family of four would join us for three nights, never exceeding the six-person maximum.

Upon notification of our plans the host responded with, “she had concerns of the large group of people” even though we would never exceed the host’s maximum six-person restriction. Without any further allowance to communicate to discuss concerns and a resolution just 20 minutes after the host’s initial message of concern, she abruptly and arbitrarily cancelled our reservation. This host displayed a lack of compassion and understanding of the impact of such an action.

We of course have made many plans in anticipation of our once-a-year summer vacation. We had paid for ferry reservations and other financial commitments based on this nine-month commitment.

There has been a complete absence of support by Airbnb. As a former Airbnb host, we understand the rights a property owner requires to operate their rentals. However, there is a moral obligation to meet your commitments to guests when they are willing to follow regional rules and Airbnb guidelines and the host’s very own restrictions. There is also an expectation with such important life plans, especially during these challenging times, to communicate honestly and provide an opportunity to resolve any issues that can sometimes arise.

Absolutely zero allowance or opportunity was given by this host to responsibly discuss a concern that arose so close to a long awaited vacation. We and our friends are now scrambling to find alternative plans. Shame on you for your insensitivity.