How to Avoid Cancellations for Your Vacation Rental

Every vacation rental owner has experienced the pain of cancelled bookings. Scrambling to fill dates at short notice, lost revenue and decreased performance on booking sites are just some of the ways guest cancellations hurt your business. While some guests need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, many cancellations can be avoided. If you’ve received more than the odd cancelled booking recently, it’s time to future-proof your approach to guest cancellations. Here’s how you can avoid vacation rental cancellations:

By Stef Scott, Content Marketing Manager

Help guests know what to expect

Cancelled bookings can arise when a guest realises that a property isn’t suitable for their needs. Misunderstandings can be avoided by having clear house rules which are not open to interpretation by guests. For example, make sure it’s clear if:

  • Children (including infants) are allowed in the property
  • The property is pet friendly
  • Parties and events are permitted
  • Smoking is allowed 
Children and dogs in car
- Make your House Rules clear so there are no misunderstandings -

As well as ensuring your house rules are accurate on all booking sites you list on, it is also advisable to specifically call out these areas in your written description too, to make things as clear as possible for guests. 

How TravelNest helps: In your TravelNest account this important information is stored in the House Rules section of each Property Profile. We also auto-generate a written description for you based on the information you share about the property, with your House Rules included. 

Get in touch when you receive a booking

As soon as you receive a new booking, send the guest a quick email as soon as you can. Introducing yourself at an early stage is an essential part of the guest experience. Remember to thank them for choosing to book your vacation rental and give them a point of contact for any questions they may have in advance of their stay. 

Closer to the check-in date it’s essential to give guests clear arrival instructions, including directions to the property and access information (e.g. where to collect keys or share access codes, etc). Don’t leave this step too late – we recommend doing this at least a week to 10 days prior to each check-in date. Doing this gives people peace of mind about their upcoming booking and also goes a long way towards creating a great impression with every guest. 

How TravelNest helps: TravelNest handles all pre-booking enquiries and booking confirmations. Once a booking is confirmed, our owners take over and reach out to their guests, sharing arrival instructions and how to access the property. Check out our Tips for Guest Communications for more information.

Unlock the potential of your vacation rental

Send a guest information pack

As well as providing essential information about how to find and access the property, we also recommend sending a guest information pack. This is where you can provide information about the local area. Including some personal recommendations on places to visit, plus local restaurants, cafes etc is a nice touch that guests will really appreciate, and will ensure they’ll be looking forward to their upcoming stay.

Highlight your cleaning measures

Another way to avoid vacation rental cancellations is through your cleaning measures. Our booking data reveals that properties with clear health and hygiene measures in place not only attract more bookings, but fewer cancellations. In a post-Covid19 world, guests want to know that the holiday home they’ve booked is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between stays in accordance with relevant Covid19 cleaning standards. That’s why it’s important to highlight the additional cleaning measures you undertake – both on your listings and in your communication with guests.

It is also advisable to let guests know if you provide additional items such as hand sanitiser, disinfectant, disinfectant wipes and face masks. All of these items will be very much appreciated by guests. 

Our blog Ten Covid-19 Cleaning Tips for Your Vacation Rental has more information.

COVID19 cleaning supplies
- Give guests peace of mind by sharing full details of your health, hygiene and cleaning measures -

How TravelNest helps: We work with our owners to understand the health, hygiene and cleaning measures they provide, and ensure this information is up-to-date on key channels.

Regularly review the local competition

Vacation rental cancellations can sometimes happen when a guest shops around and finds a better deal. To combat this, we recommend regularly reviewing your local competition. Take some time to check out listings for similar properties in your area. Your aim is to establish how you compete, not just on overall price per night, but also on value for money. If your prices, additional fees (such as cleaning fee and security deposit) and amenities don’t compare favourably, you are at more at risk if guests feel they can get a better deal somewhere else.

How TravelNest helps: Our Account Review team are experts in boosting property performance, and are on hand to provide expert advice and guidance to increase ranking on top booking sites. Our Property Score also helps our owners understand exactly how their properties are currently performing, and the changes they can make to their listings to attract more bookings. 

Offer discounts for repeat bookings and referrals

Reward guests who choose to re-book with you – they already know what to expect and are therefore less likely to cancel than first time guests. Guests who have had a great stay at your property are also more likely to tell their family and friends about it, and you can help attract these word of mouth bookings (and fewer cancellations from repeat and referred bookings) by setting up a referral scheme that rewards both parties!

How TravelNest manages vacation rental cancellations

At TravelNest, we aim to help all our owners avoid guest cancellations. We provide a number of product features to reduce the risk of cancellations:

Cancellation policy: With TravelNest, owners have the flexibility to choose a cancellation policy that works for their vacation rental business. The cancellation policy you choose is applied to all properties you list with us. Data from, one of the world’s largest booking sites, show that listings with more flexible cancellation policies benefit from 2.7X more bookings than those with stricter policies. 

Calendar synchronisation: Our calendar synchronisation feature is a powerful tool that reduces the risk of double bookings and subsequent cancellations. Owners use our calendar sync to connect any external listings to their TravelNest calendar, giving peace of mind that their availability is updated across all platforms.

Blocking unavailable dates: Owners can easily block out any dates that their property is unavailable for bookings in the property’s calendar.

Find out more about TravelNest

TravelNest gets your property seen in all the right places. We can list your property on over 30 of the best booking channels including Airbnb, Booking. com, Expedia, Tripadvisor and Vrbo.