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I have a place listed, with Instant Booking and Smart Pricing turned on, with some custom price set up for a big festival with lots of tourists in the summer. My usual prices are pretty low due to high competition, but for the period of the festival I've set up average market price, which is around 2-3 times higher than usually.

I accidentally clicked on the "Smart Pricing" switch and turned it off (no confirmation dialog, no warning or nothing).

I've turned it back on immediately, and didn't notice that this had removed all custom prices that I've set up.

Two minutes later, I got a reservation for the duration of the festival. I immediately messaged the guest, explained the situation, and she was kind and understanding enough to cancel the reservation.

I then updated the availability, by setting the "Availability window" to "Dates unavailable by default" until I can re-update the prices.

Two minutes later, another reservation for the same time period. Turns out that the calendar kept that time period (and ONLY that one) available. I guess this is because they had custom prices, even though the custom prices were removed earlier (by turning Smart Pricing off and on).

I then messaged this new guest immediately again, explained the situation, apologised, said that I cannot host them with this current price, and politely asked them to consider cancelling.

I haven't yet heard back from them. This happened around 6 hours ago.

What can I do in this situation? I will try to find a solution with the guest, of course. But if he's unwilling, or doesn't respond, can I turn to support? Is there a chance they can help and cancel the reservation?

Who is to blame here? I've sure made quite a few honest mistakes, but also the user experience for these configuration settings is not the best, or could even be considered bugs.

Of course I could cancel the reservation myself anytime. But I'd like to avoid that: I've started hosting a few months back, and worked really hard these past few months to achieve "Superhost" (one night bookings without cleaning fee, etc.).

Clarifications

  • There are 4 months until the reservation, guest gets "Full refund for cancellations up to 30 days before check-in."
  • "I cannot host them with this current price" – My income from AirBnB is just slightly higher than what I could get from renting out the apartment long term, and I'm doing cleaning and basic maintenance myself. I'm relying on the summer and especially events to make this worthwhile.
  • This is a 2-bedroom apartment with 2 double beds. Guest has reserved for 2 persons. Of course I would have preferred to rent it out for 4 persons for this period, especially given the location being a 10-minute walk away from the festival venue, and my previous/lost prices has reflected this.

Resolution – pending

Still talking with the guest. He is reasonable, but won't cancel, because 5 other apartments already canceled on him or asked him to cancel. Not sure what was going on there, they forgot to set their prices or had a similar sequence of mishaps as me.

However, guest is willing to hammer out a deal. Current proposal is for them to join with some friends and change the reservation to 6 persons. We would add a mattress to the bigger bedroom. The room and the apartment is spacious enough for 6, especially young people at a festival only needing a place to sleep until the next party. Increase the price so they would still get a good deal, (great deal when split to 6), and I would not be at that much of a loss. I've thrown in, that I will install air-conditioning until their arrival, not currently listed in the amenities.

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    As an ex-AirBnB host, altho this is annoying if it’s just the one booking and the guest is not willing to cancel you could consider taking the hit rather than harm your ‘host cancellation’ record. I doubt AirBnB Support will be particularly sympathetic (their T&C probably put the responsibility for pricing firmly on the host) however contacting them is worth a shot. Bear in mind that AirBnb policy states that guests should not cancel if a host asks them to, because doing so affects the amount refunded.
    – Traveller
    Apr 9 at 14:07
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    "said that I cannot host them with this current price" You admit this is your usual price for the property, which means (1) you can afford to host them for that price, but were simply hoping to get more due to demand; (2) it's a sane price for the rental, i.e. not an obvious pricing error. With that in mind, IMO, it'd be unreasonable of you to cancel on them. I wouldn't agree to cancel as a guest, and I'm surprised your first guest did!
    – user280993
    Apr 10 at 3:22
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    "worked really hard these past few months to achieve "Superhost"" I can tell you the long-term truth: the additional amount of money you make by being a superhost is not worthwhile all the mental fuss you need to have to keep up with it. A lot of stress and push to be always perfect, then only one unlucky occurence and it all goers south. Do not believe internet stories about succesful people, AirBnb as a company is the only one profiting from you giving an excellent service. You are exploiting yourself for the benefit of few rich investors ...
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 10 at 7:23
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    @user280993 how are you to judge what the OP "can" afford? For all you know, the OP could have budgeted that money in for something vital? How many businesses count on major events to make or break their year? And in the accommodations industry it's way more than reasonable to have higher prices for events. Supply and demand is how most of our economy works, & means there's more hope of getting a room for the event, even if it costs a bit more. Apr 10 at 7:37
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    @JeopardyTempest As a guest, I would be well aware that the host can just cancel on their own with at most a few clicks, so them asking me to cancel instead is a blatant attempt to circumvent the rules of the platform. OP should either cancel or work it out with AirBnB support to get a cancellation done without a reputation hit if it really was a platform glitch; not ask a random guest to help them game the system. I personally certainly wouldn't be willing to assist with that.
    – TooTea
    Apr 10 at 9:27

1 Answer 1

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I then messaged this new guest immediately again, explained the situation, apologised, said that I cannot host them with this current price, and politely asked them to consider cancelling.

If a guest cancels, it harms their cancellation record. The host has to cancel, since the issue came from the hosting/Airbnb side. The host can try to negotiate with Airbnb tech support.

Related: Why would an Airbnb host ask me to cancel my request to book their Airbnb, instead of declining that request themselves?

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    This is a correct answer, and as a last resort I may need to cancel. I know I'm asking a favour when asking them to cancel, but it would hurt me a lot more to cancel than for them. Where is guest cancellation record shown or taken into account? Also, for context, guest doesn't have completed trips yet. Apr 10 at 8:59
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    @IstvanSzasz Rather than asking the guest to cancel, as permitted by AirBnB hosting rules you could try sending the guest a trip change request with the new price
    – Traveller
    Apr 10 at 10:26
  • What do you mean by "cancellation record" of guests? From this thread there doesn't seem to be any negative impact for cancelling?
    – GoodDeeds
    Apr 11 at 12:22
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    This answer is absolutely right, I thought it was sleazy to "ask the guest to cancel". It is "gaming the system" and trying to take advantage of AirBnB. If the demerit for the cancel is not fair, then you need to work that out with the people giving demerits for it, i.e. AirBNB. The person who was previously canceled 5 times is bargain hunting, possibly using automated scripts and posibly brokering/reselling… and probably will be a dangerous / high risk customer and this rental has a high likelihood of being a total loss. Apr 11 at 17:20

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