As a first-time host, you’re probably wondering what happens when you reschedule an Airbnb guest.
Maybe a guest has asked you to change their reservation.
Or maybe something unexpected came up and you can no longer accommodate their original reservation dates.
The good news? Rescheduling Airbnb guests (what Airbnb calls a “reservation alteration”) is a quick, straightforward process.
The bad news? Airbnb’s guide on how to reschedule an Airbnb guest leaves out key information. Without this information, you could miss out on hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars in potential revenue.
Read on to learn what Airbnb DOESN’T tell you about rescheduling guests and how you can avoid losing revenue.
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Note: All information referenced in this post is up to date as of 11/14/2021. For the most up-to-date information, please refer directly to the Airbnb website and specific web pages linked throughout this post.
What Airbnb Doesn’t Tell You About Rescheduling Guests
If a guest asks to alter a reservation, Airbnb strongly encourages you NOT to reschedule it yourself. Instead, Airbnb wants hosts to ask their guests to request an alteration. Then, you can approve or decline the request.
But having your guests send an alteration request creates two problems:
Problem #1: The timing on your cancellation policy resets.
The rescheduled reservation is treated as a new reservation altogether. That means your cancellation policy resets, based on the new reservation dates.
And, unfortunately, every Airbnb cancellation policy has a window of time where a guest can cancel their reservation without penalty. (Unless, of course, guests choose a non-refundable option when booking).
Even Airbnb’s ‘strict’ cancellation policy gives guests a “full refund for cancellations made within 48 hours of booking if the check-in date is at least 14 days away.”
So, guests can cancel their (new) booking, if their reservation is now within the no-penalty window of your cancellation policy.
According to this Airbnb Community Center thread, some guests have caught on to this loophole. Hosts have reported guests rescheduling their stay and then canceling without any penalty.
Problem #2: The nightly rate changes.
The nightly rate your guests pay is the nightly rate of the new booking dates, not what your guests already committed to paying.
So, if they happen to choose dates that are lower than their existing reservation, Airbnb will charge them the new, lower, rate.
If the new nightly rate is higher than what your guests committed to paying, your guests might be frustrated by the increase.
How to Avoid Losing Revenue When Rescheduling Airbnb Guests
Step #1: Ensure the new dates are outside the no-penalty window of your cancellation policy.
Skip this step if you have a ‘flexible’ cancellation policy. Your guests can get a full refund almost anytime.
- If you have the ‘strict’ or ‘firm’ cancellation policy, the new check-in date needs to be within the next seven days
- With either policy, if the new check-in date is greater than 14 days away, your guests will have 48 hours to cancel and get a full refund. If it’s more than seven days away, your guests can receive a 50% refund
- With the firm policy, your guests can also cancel anytime for a full refund if check-in is more than 30 days away
- If you have the ‘moderate’ cancellation policy, the new check-in date needs to be within the next five days
- With a moderate cancellation policy, guests can receive a full refund up to five days prior to arrival
Of course, rescheduling your guests for a check-in just 5-7 days away might not be feasible. You could very likely already have a booking during that time, or these new dates might not work for your guests.
If that’s the case, you can absolutely reschedule to dates further out and take the risk of your guests potentially canceling. I’ve rescheduled two guests for circumstances outside of either of our control. I offered those guests dates one or two months out. They graciously accepted and stayed with us on those dates.
The vast majority of guests are not trying to take advantage of a loophole, they simply want to enjoy a wonderful vacation. What you ultimately offer your guests is totally up to you.
That said, no matter which dates you choose, you’ll want to adjust your nightly rate accordingly. Read on to learn how.
Step #2: Adjust your nightly rate.
Skipping this step alone could mean losing out on hundreds of dollars a night. There are two ways you can adjust your nightly rate:
- On your Airbnb calendar, select the new dates you want your guests to have
- Update the nightly rate to be the same as your guests’ current nightly rate
- Navigate to the reservation you want to change
- Click ‘change or cancel’ at the bottom of the page
- Click ‘change reservation’
- Update the reservation dates
- Under “guest charges”, you’ll now see the new nightly rate and the total cost to your guest. Update the total cost to be the same amount your guests agreed to pay with their initial booking
With either option, you need to confirm the new total cost to the guest is the same as the previous. This can be tricky. Here’s how to do it:
- When viewing the ‘change reservation’ page, you’ll see Airbnb’s “host payout details” on the right-hand side of your screen
- Airbnb doesn’t explicitly state this, but the host payout calculated here is made up of the sum of the new nightly rate plus your cleaning fee
- NOTE: including the cleaning fee is NEW with Airbnb’s Winter 2021 update. Before this update, you had to manually add the cleaning fee into the new total charge you were requesting. If you didn’t realize you needed to add the cleaning fee, you would accidentally lose out on your entire cleaning fee. You also had to explain to the guest why the new ‘nightly rate’ increased, because for some odd reason Airbnb would add your cleaning fee to the nightly rate (I’m not bitter about it…)
- With Airbnb’s Winter 2021 update, the host payout calculation is truly the payout you’ll receive. This number includes the cleaning fee you’ll pass on to your cleaners
- Use this calculation to ensure you’ve adjusted your nightly rates correctly by confirming the price difference is $0.00. You might have to play around with the exact nightly rates until the total cost matches the existing cost down to the penny
Rescheduling Airbnb guests can lead to thousands of dollars in lost revenue if not done correctly.
The good news? If you know what to look out for, it takes just a few steps to avoid losing this revenue.
Follow the steps I outlined above to ensure you’re maximizing your revenue as a new Airbnb host.
Recommended: 5 Essential Airbnb Messages That Will Save You Time
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