Best Practices for Cancellations and Declines

When we book vacations, we’re all looking for a seamless experience. We want to be able to decide on the fun stuff (like where we’re going to go and what we’ll do) and then compare our travel options. We want the travel booking experience to be as effortless as the vacation itself.

When a traveler requests to book on HomeAway, they want to know as soon as possible whether or not their reservation is confirmed so they can continue to daydream about the amazing vacation they’re about to take! Owners can help to make a great booking experience for potential guests, and alleviate many common traveler pain points, by using the best practices outlined here for cancelling or declining bookings on the HomeAway site.


First of all, you can avoid many requests you can’t accommodate by:

  • Keeping your calendar accurate: Many owners and property managers have let us know they have had to decline booking requests because their calendar did not accurately represent property availability, which is easy to fix! If you are processing bookings through HomeAway checkout, your calendar will automatically update. You can also sync your calendar with other sites you are listing on by following these instructions.
  • Ensure your minimum stay rules are accurate: Travelers will be automatically unable to book your property if they do not meet your minimum stay requirements.
  • Write a comprehensive description: If you give clear information to the traveler, they are more likely to understand the details of staying in your property and you’ll be less likely to have to decline the booking because they don’t meet your rules or understand your requirements.
  • Set your House Rules: Give your guests clear information on what is allowed and expected while staying in your property. This may help avoid getting requests from guests that don’t meet your requirements.

The fewer bookings you receive from travelers you can’t accommodate, the better their traveler experience.

When a booking request comes in you cannot accommodate:

  • Decline the booking quickly: Do not let the system automatically decline your bookings by not responding within the 24-hour window. If you know you cannot accept the booking, make sure you decline it manually as soon as possible. This gives the traveler more time to find other options for their vacation.
  • Create a custom template in your dashboard for declines: Getting back to each customer individually is time consuming. In your dashboard (in “Settings”), you can create templates for declining bookings.
  • Provide a reason: Let us know why you had to decline. This helps us understand how we can help and what we can do to improve.

When you’ve accepted a booking but you or your guest need to cancel after the fact:

  • Select a simplified cancellation policy: If you have one of our cancellation policies, we can automatically process the refund in accordance with your policy. To learn more about setting your cancellation policy, click here.
  • Make sure you cancel in your dash: We can only refund the service fee if the cancellation is processed through your dashboard (and if the cancellation is eligible).
  • Don’t cancel too often: Cancellations happen - make sure you only cancel when absolutely necessary as it is upsetting for travelers and, if happening too often, can negatively impact your placement with best match.

So now that you know the best practices, how do declines and cancellations impact your performance, and more specifically, your best match ranking? First of all, our terms and conditions state that all bookings should be processed through our check-out. If you are not accepting a material number of bookings (including system declines) or if you are canceling a material number of bookings, all of these things can be a signal that the bookings generated through the HomeAway site are being taken to another site. This behavior can result in demotion in sort or even removal from the site. Remember, it is not about absolute numbers or thresholds; there isn’t a magic number of declines or cancellations that will affect your search position. Your performance in best match is about how you stack up against the competition in your market. Best match takes into account the percentage of accepted bookings, and of course cancellations & declines can impact that number.

The HomeAway team has the same goal as the owners who list on the site. We want a great experience for the traveler and as many bookings as possible for our owners. The fewer declines and cancellations, the better the traveler experience and the more bookings we can send your direction.

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