My life as an Airbnb Host What I've learned from hosting and how I make money using Airbnb

Should you offer a non-refundable price on airbnb?


It’s Christmas in London and the Omicron covid variant has recently gone viral (so to speak) and now most of the city is in some form of semi-lockdown. Compared to last year things are much better as I can still host guests in my airbnb. But this could all change soon as the UK government are at least ‘thinking’ of imposing further restrictions. The covid booster program seems to be the main initiative at the moment to curb the seriousness of the virus. But what does all this mean for my airbnb? We right now not a lot. I do usually take guests over Christmas and this year is no different however I am only half full due to some guests cancelling at the last moment.

Should you refund airbnb guests who cancel due to covid restrictions?

Some of my guests have cancelled recently mostly due to the recent outbreak of the Omicron covid variant. Because I have a Moderate cancellation policy they can cancel with a full refund 5 days prior to the arrival date. However there are certain circumstances in which a full refund might be needed even if it’s less than 5 days to check-in. This is when some sort of force majeure means the guest cannot stay at the listing through no fault of their own. One guest claimed she was unable to stay and wanted a full refund because she is unable to enter the UK from France; due to covid restrictions. In her case this was not actually true because she is able to enter the UK. However I gave her the full refund since it’s Christmas and to a certain extent there was some justification to cancel and not worth the argument.


Choose the right cancellation policy that suits you.

One advantage of the non-refundable price is that in the airbnb search it’s this low price that will appear. Therefore your listing will appear cheaper to other listings but have the hidden advantage of keeping the full amount if the guest cancelled. If like me you get a high number of last minute cancellations then this could be a boon.

Should you offer a non-refundable price option?

I noticed recently the cancellation and refund policies on airbnb have changed. There are now a few extra options you can choose from. It’s now possible to offer a non-refundable price.

One of my first questions was – What is the difference between moderate and flexible non-refundable? If you choose moderate or non-refundable (or flexible and non-refundable) then the guest is given the choice to take the non-refundable price or your moderate cancellation policy. So they will see a non-refundable price and either (your choosing) a moderate (or flexible if thats your choice) cancellation policy price. It took me a while to get my head around that for a bit.

I have tested this out and it seems most guests do book using the cheaper non-refundable price. However this may be for 2 main reasons. Most of my guests book less than 2 weeks before check-in so the expected chances of a cancellation are low. And my prices are very cheap so the expected loss if they were to cancel is low. How much advantage there will be for me in this though I do not know. It’s possible the slightly reduced income from offering the non-refundable price might be offset by the number of cancellations getting no refund AND I am able to re-sell the room at short notice. I suspect this may even itself out over time and therefore be no gain. However my airbnb will appear cheaper to other similar listings due to my discounted price showing first. So I am playing this will work for me in the longer run.

About the author


Airbnb host and I live in London.

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My life as an Airbnb Host What I've learned from hosting and how I make money using Airbnb

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