Cancellations are inevitable in the vacation rental industry, but they can also cause significant losses for owners and managers. Therefore, it is important to have a clear and effective cancellation strategy that can balance the needs of both hosts and guests.
Those are some of the most common cancellation strategies, for online vacation rentals:
1.- Clarify your cancellation policy and make it visible before they book
One of the most basic cancellation strategies, is to clarify your vacation rental cancellation policy and make it visible, to travellers before they book. This will help guests understand, what they are agreeing to and avoid misunderstandings or disputes later on. A clear cancellation policy, can also protect hosts from losing revenue due to last-minute cancellations or no-shows. However, a clear cancellation policy is not enough by itself; it also needs to be fair and reasonable for both parties.
2.- Take a non-refundable down payment at the time of booking
Another cancellation strategy is to take a non-refundable down payment, at the time of booking. This can discourage guests from cancelling their reservations, without a valid reason and ensure, that hosts receive some compensation for their lost bookings. However, this strategy can also discourage potential guests, who prefer more flexibility or lower upfront costs. Moreover, it can create negative reviews or complaints, if guests have extenuating circumstances, that prevent them from travelling.
3.- Offer a promotion for confirmed bookings
To offer a promotion for confirmed bookings, can incentivize guests to book early and stick with their plans by rewarding them with discounts, upgrades, freebies, or other benefits. This can increase guest loyalty and satisfaction, by offering them more value for their money. However, this strategy can also reduce hosts' profit margins, increasing their expenses, if they have to provide extra services or amenities.
4.- Check on your guests
To check on your guests can involve sending reminders, require confirmations, tips, or updates to guests before their arrival date. This can show guests that you care about their experience and are ready to assist them, with any issues or requests. This can enhance guest satisfaction and trust by creating a personal connection with them. However, this strategy can also be time-consuming or intrusive if done too frequently or aggressively.
5.- Strict cancellation policy if your rental is in high demand
Another cancellation strategy, is to choose a strict cancellation policy, if your rental is in high demand. A strict cancellation policy, means that guests will not receive any refund if they cancel their reservation within a certain period before their check-in date. This can protect hosts, from losing revenue due to cancellations, when they could have sold their rental to other guests at a higher price or when they have fixed costs, that cannot be recovered, as the cleaning service. However, a strict cancellation policy, can also make your rental less attractive to guests who prefer more flexibility or who are concerned, about unforeseen events that may affect their travel plans.
In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing cancellations in the vacation rental industry. Each host needs to consider their own goals, preferences, market conditions, guest expectations and legal obligations, when choosing a cancellation strategy, for their online vacation rental.