You may have a Strict Cancellation Policy on your Airbnb listing but that’s not going to stop people from canceling and requesting a full refund. Nor is it going to stop some less-than-scrupulous characters from holding a negative review over your head in order to get their money back.
Unfortunately, this is becoming a thing. More and more, I find that I come across a feed in one of the Airbnb Hosts’ Groups that talk about these types of guest using extortion tactics (yes, it’s a real crime) to get money back although the guest read the policy and agreed to the terms that were stated clearly.
Well, aside from ignoring them, risk getting a bad review, and crossing your fingers during a long and drawn out back-and-forth with Airbnb to get the review removed – I find that you can avoid the entire situation altogether.
I bet you’re wondering how? Well, you are going to love me so I won’t keep you guessing!
I have found a wonderful little trick that is working wonders and I just have to share.
Offer each and every guest, as soon as they create the reservation, an opportunity to purchase travel insurance. Seriously. Let me explain.
Trip Cancellation Insurance or Travel Insurance is offered by a variety of companies. When I travel, especially outside the United States, I purchase Travel Insurance through my favorite company, American Express. Yes, most people think of American Express as just a credit card company but they are so much more.
American Express’ Travel Service is the standard to beat. No one, in my eyes, can even come close. At one time, Scottsdale was the home to AMEX and my aunt worked for the company until they moved out of the state. She never shared names but she constantly told me stories of her department going about and beyond for their cardholders.
One time, a man called who’s daughter was in Europe and her purse was stolen along with her passport. She didn’t own an American Express card but her parents did. Not only did they issue a card in her name and carrier it over to her ASAP but they went far above and beyond for the family. They drove the girl to the American Embassy and helped her get a temporary visa and passport, as well as identification. They helped her get into her hotel with no ID, no money, no credit cards… nothing. They made sure this young woman was safe and had everything she needed to enjoy the rest of her visit and get home safely.
So, after having a few too many cancellations and refund requests in a very short period of time, I remembered the stories my aunt told me about American Express and I thought, “heck, I wish MY guests would have used their American Express card to pay for their trip and had purchased the Travel Insurance.” Wait a minute. Yep, that gave me the idea.
I started looking into companies online. I saw that a company we used for some of our STR Properties in Florida had an amazing website designed to give quotes right away and the price was right. I began sending the link for the company with every welcome email.
I write something like this:
Dear Jane Doe,
I am looking forward to hosting you on such and such date and have enclosed the pdf of our House Rules book.
As you know, you agreed to follow our House Rules and to our Strict Cancellation Policy.
Have no fear. We aren’t tyrants but we would like to ask that you go over the book within the next 24 Hours just to make certain that we are a good fit for one another. If you decide to cancel within that time, there will be no penalty – no harm, no foul. If you do decide you can handle us (we’re pretty easy only asking for you to treat our property as you would a dear friend’s) then might we also suggest you take a moment to check out some Travel Insurance.
Travel Guard (an AIG Company) can provide you with inexpensive travel insurance in case you are forced to change your plans due to unforeseen circumstances. We are not affiliates of any kind and don’t get any kickback. However, as small business owners, we are unable to refund your money if you are forced to cancel. Our reservations book out farther in advance and we are often unable to fill openings that pop up unexpectedly. Therefore, so you don’t ask and we don’t have to deny any requests for refunds, we have found an inexpensive alternative.
Here’s the link to check out Travel Guard (https://www.travelguard.com) and here’s the pdf of our House Rules (https://www.shorttermrentalrevenue.com/p/strr-house-rules) .
We look forward to your visit!
Okay, do you see what I just did? I Jedi Mind Tricked these guests and guess what? Yep. No more requests for refunds.
They no longer ask or expect me to give them money back. I threw the ball into their court way ahead of time and I haven’t had to play that game again since. They now realize that I am serious about my Strict Cancellation Policy. They also realize that they are adults and it is entirely up to them to make arrangements ahead of time if they want to make sure they are covered.
Whether or not they choose to purchase the insurance, they are the only ones who have to live with the consequences because they made that decision.
Try it and see if it doesn’t cut down on your refund requests, as well.
All the best in building a thriving STR Business!!
Written by Michelle Russell
For the Short-Term Rental Revenue Podcast
© 2019 The Prosperity Process LLC
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