From the 29th April 2022, the new Airbnb Rebooking and Refund Policy comes into effect. What does this mean for hosts and property managers, and what does it mean for your guests?

Let’s take a look at the policy and what you need to know for future bookings.

New Airbnb Rebooking & Refund Policy 2022

The policy comes into effect for bookings made on or after the 29th April 2022. Some of the points covered existed in the previous policy, however, the original language was not clear and it appeared that these were new and slightly alarming additions.

The policy covers how Airbnb:

  1. Assists with rebooking a reservation – this clause has been updated on 8th April after Airbnb received many host complaints
  2. Handles a refund when a host cancels a reservation
  3. Handles a refund when ‘another’ travel issue disrupts a stay

I am going to cover the policy details and their permutations point by point as they are presented on the Airbnb Rebooking and Refund Policy Page.

Some of the original points covered in the new policy – specifically about rebooking – have since  been removed due to the strong feedback from hosts.

You can read Airbnb’s response in their details about the guest rebooking and refund policy.

Airbnb incurrs costs in assisting guests with accomodations

What happens when a host cancels a booking before check-in?

The Policy: The Airbnb Rebook & Refund policy states that if a host cancels a booking before check-in, the guest will receive a 100% refund (regardless of the reason for cancellation) and if the booking is cancelled within 30 days of the stay, Airbnb will ‘assist the guest with finding comparable or better accommodations.

The thinking behind this policy is to detract hosts from cancelling for non-essential reasons, such as receiving a booking through another channel at a higher rate.

The Permutations: 

  • In Airbnb’s open letter to hosts, it clarified that it could apply the Extenuating Circumstances Policy where the cancellation was due to reasons beyond the control of the host, such as a pandemic, natural disaster, or military action.

However, what about reasons beyond a host’s control, such as illness, damage to your home, or a fire? Do these come under the ‘everything else’ section and may still be considered fully refundable?

     

    Airbnb Extenuating Circumstances Policy

    In the new policy, Airbnb also offers assistance in rebooking the guest when the cancellation is made within 30 days of the stay and this may include an upgrade.

    The original new policy language suggested that a host would be responsible for any difference in the booking costs. This has since been retracted due to host feedback.

    What happens if a Travel Issue disrupts a guest’s stay?

    This is the biggest change to the existing policy and was introduced based on guest feedback that 24 hours was not sufficient time to evaluate the accommodation.

    Previously: Previously, after check-in, a guest had 24 hours to raise a ‘Travel Issue’ with the Airbnb Resolution Centre and request a refund.

    New Policy: The guest now has 72 hours to raise a travel issue with the Airbnb Resolution, request a refund and apply to be relocated.

    The Permutations: The guest now has an extra 48 hours to report a ‘Travel Issue’ which in some cases may mean they use to find fault and claim a refund simply because they don’t like the accommodation.

    The original language in the new policy suggested that this could also mean a rebooking cost to the host. This has since been detracted.

    Airbnb’s response to host feedback:

    “Though guests will now have 72 hours from discovery to report a travel issue to Airbnb, the policy states: Before submitting a claim, whenever feasible, the guest must notify the Host and try to resolve the travel issue directly with their Host.

    If guests contact Community Support first, our standard practice is to remind them to reach out to the Host directly, and Community Support will also try to contact the Host.

    In the event guests discover a travel issue and report it after the 72-hour period ends, Community Support will still direct the guests to contact the Host to resolve the issue. We want to help mediate a positive outcome because our goal is always to try to save your reservation.

    Guest claims should never come as a surprise to Hosts. We are committed to providing you with the opportunity to share your side of the story so we can determine a fair outcome.”

    They also state that a guest will not be eligible for any refund when the host can quickly resolve an issue. And a guest is only eligible for a ‘full refund’ for nights NOT spent in the accommodation. If a guest chooses to stay, they may be eligible for a ‘partial refund’ depending on the severity of the claim.

    Airbnb Travel Issues Policy

    Airbnb Travel Issues Policy

    Travel Issues covered in the new Airbnb Rebooking & Refund Policy:

    • Host cancels the reservation prior to check-in.
    • Host fails to provide access to the accommodations.
    • Host fails to disclose in the Listing that the Host, another person, or a pet will be present during the stay.
    • Accommodations are not habitable at check-in for any of the following reasons:
      1. They are not reasonably clean and sanitary, including bedding and towels.
      2. They contain safety or health hazards.
      3. They contain pests.

    The listing contains a material inaccuracy such as:

    • Incorrect home type (e.g. entire home, private room or shared room).
    • Incorrect type or number of rooms (e.g. bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens).
    • Incorrect location of the accommodation.
    • Special amenity or feature described in the Listing is not present or does not function (e.g. pool, hot tub, bathroom – toilet, shower or bathtub, kitchen – sink, stove, refrigerator or other major appliance, electrical, heating or air conditioning systems).

    And there’s more…

    Airbnb states: Where a guest demonstrates that timely reporting of a Travel Issue was not feasible, we may allow for late reporting of the Travel Issue under this Policy

    This suggests that under some circumstances a complaint may be received and upheld after the 72-hour deadline!

    And there’s even more…

    If Airbnb upholds a guest complaint or you cancel a booking within 30-days of check-in for an unsubstantiated reason, you may also lose your Superhost status.

    And if a guest claim is upheld you may have future reservations cancelled until you can confirm that the issue has been resolved.

    How does Airbnb decide or should we ask ‘who’ at Airbnb decides to uphold a ‘Travel Issue’ complaint?

    Complaints received within the 72-hour timeframe or bookings cancelled before the check-in date will be handled by Airbnb’s Resolution Team.

    They must be submitted through the Airbnb Support Centre and ‘supported by relevant evidence such as photographs or confirmation of the conditions from the Host’.

    The claim will then be evaluated and determined if the Travel Issue will be upheld and a refund and rebook offered.

    So, what’s the issue here?

    Airbnb We Value Your Feedback

    We’ve got your back? Hosts or guests?

    It’s long been discussed in host communities that Airbnb’s resolution centre favours the guest over the host. More often, taking the side of the guest in disputes; awarding refunds for what are considered by hosts to be minor issues or unsubstantiated complaints.

    Is this new policy a kick in the teeth for hosts? And does it present a greater opportunity for guests to try to claim refunds when they simply decide that the accommodation isn’t for them?

    It’s possible.

    Of course, there are travel issues where it makes complete sense that the guest should receive a refund. Example: if accommodation is advertised with features and amenities that don’t exist, or the property is in a bad condition.

    Airbnb’s response to ‘False Claims’

    Airbnb insists that they work hard to detect false claims and if a guest is found to submit a false claim to try to get a refund on a booking it results in serious consequences.

    Airbnb requires valid proof from a guest – photographic or confirmation from the host when a claim is submitted.

    How can hosts appeal against a guest’s claim?

    You have the right to appeal against any complaint or outcome of a claim. You should contact the Community Support team with appropriate evidence.

    If you can provide sufficient evidence that contradicts the guest report or it shows that Airbnb has made an error in their judgement, they will either deny the guest’s claim or reverse their decision.

    Airbnb also recommends that you collect a time-stamped video prior to every check-in to ensure you have a record of the conditions of your accommodation immediately before guests arrive.

    Guests are also affected by Airbnb’s ‘Coming Soon’ new Terms of Service

    Airbnb’s ‘Coming Soon’ new Terms of Service

    Airbnb will also be introducing an update to their 22nd April  2022 Terms of Service which states that guests booking accommodation through Airbnb must agree to damage costs being charged to them when a claim is put forward by the host.

    We’ll follow up on this in the next Your Rentals article.

    Review your Airbnb listing before April 29th 2022 to avoid problems

    Only time will tell how this will impact business on Airbnb for hosts and managers.

    Your next step is to thoroughly read both the new policy and the open letter to hosts which clarifies the policy language to ensure you are clear of your responsibilities as a host on Airbnb.

    Review your Airbnb listing and make sure that the description meets the expectation of the guest. There must be no room for misinterpretation.

    Have you been affected by an Airbnb travel issue claim or by the cancellation policy? How do you feel about the new policy? Comment below on your experiences.