- An Arizona homeowner who listed her home on Airbnb for three years is leaving the platform.
- She said she sees the company’s cancellation and refund policies as favorable to guests.
- The short-term-rental owner, based near Phoenix, explained why now she only lists her home on Vrbo.
An Arizona homeowner who rented out her house on Airbnb for three years said she quit the platform in February because she believes the booking giant’s policies on cancellations and refunds are too favorable to guests.
The owner, who is based in the popular Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she now only accepts reservations on Vrbo. (She previously had her property listed on both platforms.)
“The stress is not worth it,” said the homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous because she has not yet applied for the $250 permit that became necessary to operate her short-term rental as of January 2023.
She has bookings in March and April, then plans to move back into the home as her primary residence sometime after that.
The Arizona homeowner joins other short-term-rental owners and managers who have expressed dissatisfaction with Airbnb as a booking platform. While Airbnb is the dominant platform over rivals like Vrbo and Booking.com, hosts have previously boycotted the platform over policies they see as favoring guests.
In December, Sara and Tony Robinson, who own 22 active short-term rentals that bring in $1.3 million in annual revenue, told Insider that they wanted to reduce reliance on Airbnb and promote direct bookings to avoid fees. Rick Carlson, who owns four rentals in popular vacation spot Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said last summer that he was going to switch his properties to long-term, or annual, renters for reasons that included being exhausted by “ridiculous” guest demands.
The frustrations with Airbnb come as short-term rental owners face more competition than ever, with some fearing an “Airbnbust,” described as a slowdown in bookings or revenue due to rising demand from travelers being overpowered by too much supply. In 2022, short-term-rental analytics site AirDNA recorded the highest-ever number of listings in the US — 1.4 million nationwide — and warned hosts to expect a slight drop in occupancy in 2023.
The Arizona homeowner said the specter of a slowdown also played a part in her decision to leave the platform.
“It’s not necessarily the cash cow that used to be,” she said.
Her journey using, then quitting, Airbnb
In March 2020, the Arizona homeowner planned to rent out her three-bedroom house in Scottsdale on Airbnb while she traveled around the world.
Though COVID-19 restrictions and family responsibilities kept her in Arizona, the boom in domestic travel following pandemic lockdowns convinced her to keep her home on Airbnb anyway to make a little extra money.
It worked. At its busiest, the property was capturing $12,000 in revenue each month.
Now, however, she said Airbnb’s policies on refunds and mid-stay cancellations have driven her off the platform.
One of her complaints is what she sees as Airbnb’s too-lenient cancellation policies. Hosts can choose from a pre-selected list of options designed by Airbnb that range from flexible to strict. Currently, the strictest cancellation policy allows a guest to cancel between seven and 14 days before the reservation and receive a 50% refund.
The Arizona homeowner said she believes seven days’ notice is too little to adequately re-book the property.
Vrbo offers stricter cancellation policies, she added, including options that say bookings are non-refundable if canceled less than 60 days prior to the first day of the reservation — or even non-refundable altogether.
Airbnb also offers a non-refundable option, but hosts can only offer — not require — it.
The Arizona host also took issue with how Airbnb allows guests to request refunds mid-stay. Airbnb’s official instructions advise guests to first message the host through the platform to resolve the issue. However, guests are allowed to request a full refund.
If a host does not respond to the initial request within one hour, the policy said, Airbnb may step in and resolve the matter with the guest directly.
It puts a lot of pressure on hosts, the Arizona homeowner said.
“The mental and the emotional stress of being glued to your phone” became too burdensome, she said, adding that she always feared Airbnb would make a decision she didn’t agree with, resulting in lost income.