Google Search Data Predicts an Astonishing Amount of Upcoming Airbnb Cancellations
This week, "airbnb cancellation policy" has been googled more than 400% more than the next highest week in ALL of Airbnb's existence. 400%!
These Google Trend Results Confirm What We All Probably Suspected
We are in uncharted territory for what this means for the short term rental industry for the next 3-12 months.
As a Vacation Rental owner myself, I just received my first cancellation inquiry related to coronavirus today. This isn't shocking. In fact, I've been expecting cancellations for about 3 weeks now, and have been surprised not to see any.
The likelihood of a cure or vaccine coming before the next 12 months seems bleak, based on what the scientists are saying.
Meanwhile, the fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD) has gripped the stock market. And now with sports being cancelled, that FUD is taking hold with every American.
This Data Suggests an Onslaught of Upcoming Cancellations
Right now this is Airbnb's stated cancellation policy for coronavirus. It's still unclear in most cases, how easily guests will be able to get out of strict cancellation policies if they are traveling to/from areas that aren't "majorly impacted".
There are lots of complicated issues Airbnb and managers will be forced to deal with in the coming days and weeks. For example, what is the definition of "majorly impacted"? If one of the 10 guests are elderly and concerned about traveling, will Airbnb allow the guest to cancel with no penalties?
Airbnb tends to take guests' sides in any gray-area matter. You can disagree or agree with Airbnb's decisions on individual cases, but they will be the final judge.
For full-home rentals, there are often multiple stakeholders involved in the decision to cancel a reservation. With multiple decision makers, it takes time for groups to decide what to do. As widespread testing becomes available, the cases will only become worse.
Reported Waits of 90+ Minutes to Talk to a Case Manager at Airbnb
Reddit users are reporting extremely long wait times to talk to case managers about cancellations. One can only assume this means they're is a big backlog of expected cancellations in the pipeline.
Brace for Many More Cancellations
When the original coronavirus outbreak hit China, the statistics were also artificially low for many days. On 2/12, the Chinese government "updated the stats," and the total cases rose OVERNIGHT by 15,152 new coronavirus cases and 254 additional deaths.
The next day Airbnb cancelled all bookings in Beijing from February until May!
It's unclear if Airbnb will enact the same policy in the U.S, unless there is pressure from local, state or federal government policies.
But, Don't Worry. It's Not All Doom and Gloom....
....Short-Term Rentals are More Immune to the Impacts of the Virus Than Other Travel Sectors
Here are some crucial ways in which short-term rentals are more resistant to the impacts of the Coronavirus than hotels, cruises, and airlines
Vacation rental guests often visit destinations within driving distance which allows them to bypass the potential risks of airline travel
Because vacation rentals are booked further in advance than hotels (and in larger groups), canceling is often more cumbersome
Vacation rentals impose tougher cancelation policies that motivate travelers to stick with their plans