Pro Tips

Reducing Double Bookings on Airbnb and Other Channels

January 25, 2023 |

For property managers and hosts, being double booked on multiple platforms – whether it be any combination of Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, or another OTA – is a real pain and inconvenience for many aspects of their business, having a negative impact on their guest relationships and disrupting operations.

This blog post will break down all things double bookings; how they arise, how to resolve them, and the best tech solutions that can help you say goodbye to Airbnb double bookings for good.

The Basics of Airbnb Double Bookings

What is a double booking?

A double booking is when two different guests make a reservation for the same rental unit over an overlapping period of time. For example, if a guest books your property on Airbnb and a different one books it on Vrbo, then you are double booked.

Double bookings are more common than you think; Booking.com reports that 25% of their property managers and hosts will receive a double booking during their first year on the platform.

How do Airbnb double bookings arise?

There are three main reasons that a property manager or Airbnb host may find themselves double booked:

Lack of synchronization across channels – when a guest reserves a property on Airbnb, this property will still be listed as available on other listed channels like Vrbo or Booking.com until you find the time to block it off manually. As a result, new guests can still book the property for the same dates on these platforms. This can be easily avoided by synchronizing data across platforms with a Multi-Calendar, but more on that later!

Inaccurate calendar setup – failing to ensure your properties’ availabilities are listed accurately is a recipe for unwanted double bookings. This can happen when maintenance is taking place, or perhaps the property owner would like to stay in their own Airbnb across certain dates. It’s critical to check the properties’ availability and booking policies are up to date before making it available for guests to book.

Other human errors – at the end of the day, property managers and hosts are only human, so mistakes that lead to a double-booked property are inevitable. Maybe they input the wrong date of a booking, or maybe the date was correct but they blocked off the wrong property… there are several ways that it’s possible to slip up when trying to deal with bookings manually.

How to Resolve an Airbnb Double Booking 

When it comes to dealing with double bookings, time is of the essence. The closer it gets to the reservation date, the less time there is for you or your guests to make alternative arrangements, and the angrier one of your guests is going to be.

The best solution in these cases will vary depending on the unique circumstances, but here are some common double booking situations that come up and the best way to resolve them. The key objective in each instance is to resolve the issue as amicably as possible to ensure that the double booking at your Airbnb does not result in a negative review of the property.

If you have other listings available in the same location

This is the best-case scenario. If you have another listing in a similar location to what the guests were looking for, offer to relocate them to this listing at no extra cost, even if they are getting an upgrade. To keep the guests happy, ensure that the listing is of the same or better quality than the one they booked, and offers all the same amenities and facilities of their original booking, or even additional ones as a bonus where possible. 

For example, if the original property had a hot tub or balcony, this is likely to be a contributing factor towards the guests’ decision to stay there, therefore it’s important to have the same amenity in the new listing that you offer your guests.

If you have NO other listings available in the same location

If this unfortunate situation arises, then it is your responsibility to find your guests alternative accommodation that is of the same (or better) standard than what they booked, in the same location. Of course, you are expected to cover all costs associated with the change in accommodation. To go the extra mile, we recommend organizing and covering transport costs to the new accommodation, and even leaving a little welcome gift to sweeten the deal… the last thing you want is for these guests’ experiences to lead to a negative review.

Top Tip: some of the big OTAs Customer Services (like Booking.com) help you with these relocations.

Costs of Double Bookings on Airbnb and Other Channels

The main reason it’s critical to avoid becoming double booked on Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com is because of the costs and implications it can have for the rest of your business when you are forced to cancel your guests’ reservations. Some OTAs are kinder than others, but whether it’s a cancelation fee or a decline in listing rank and visibility,  there’s a price to be paid.

Here are the three most popular OTAs’ cancelation policies:

The cost of being double booked on Airbnb

Airbnb is hugely guest-centric throughout their business model, so it is no surprise that they have the most stringent policies in place to penalize property managers and Airbnb hosts who find themselves double booked.

  • cancelation fee – $50 for cancelations over a week before check-in, and $100 for cancelations within a week of check-in.
  • Bad news in reviews – guests still have the option of leaving a (likely negative) review and an automated listing review will appear stating that a booking was canceled.
  • Not-so-Superhost – Superhosts must have below a 1% cancelation rate, so a cancelation for a double booking on Airbnb may tip the balance.

The cost of being double booked on Booking.com

Booking.com is slightly less stringent when it comes to their cancelation policies, though they do want you to try to find alternative accommodation for your guests, which can be a challenging issue in itself, especially if the double booking is only realized close to the stay.

  • Find an alternative – as mentioned, Booking.com wants you to find a similar listing nearby for your guests to stay. If the guest has already arrived, they require you to do this within 30 minutes, so it can be helpful to have some local partnerships and deals in place as a backup.
  • Cover financial costs – property managers and hosts are also required to provide transportation to the new property and cover the costs of it, as well as any price differences between the old and new accommodation.
  • Pay an SEO penalty – cancelations will negatively impact where your property is listed on the site, which will likely have an impact on your bookings.

The cost of being double booked on Vrbo

Vrbo cancelation policies are also slightly more relaxed than Airbnb.

  • Issue a refund – the guest must be refunded the full cost that they paid for the reservation, including any service fee’s, cleaning fee’s etc.
  • Pay an SEO penalty – cancelations will negatively impact where your property is listed on the site.

Tech Tools to Avoid Double Bookings on Airbnb and Other Channels

When updating calendars and doing work manually, avoiding double bookings is tricky enough for Airbnb hosts with just a single property. For property managers with multiple properties, the double bookings forecast becomes exponentially foggier.

Luckily for them, there are a ton of tech tools and features out there to help reduce and prevent double bookings from taking place. Here are a couple of tools that you may want in your ‘double bookings shield’ of a tech stack. These tools help reduce double bookings and so so much more.

Multi-Calendar

Guesty’s Multi-Calendar was voted as the ‘most used’ Guesty feature,  which can be attributed largely to its effective role in eliminating double bookings. How does it help?

With a Multi-Calendar, no matter how many listings you’ve got or channels you use, all of your reservations will appear on a single screen, in a single calendar. When a change is made on your Multi-Calendar, those changes are automatically reflected across all your channels. 

In practice, that means that if a guest books for the 5-10th January on Vrbo, the Multi-Calendar will automatically block those dates out on Airbnb, Booking.com, and any other connected channels, waving goodbye to double bookings for good.

Better than that, Guesty has a best-in-class integration with the top booking channels mentioned, so that any changes are updated in as close to real-time as you’ll get anywhere across the industry.  This continuous data synchronization along with real-time content updates mean that more accurate, reliable information is presented about your listings’ availabilities across different OTAs, reducing the time window available for a potential double booking to occur.

Some Multi-Calendars and Channel Managers offer the same service but lack the real-time updates that give property managers and hosts true confidence that they can eliminate double bookings for good.

Owner’s Portal

An owner’s portal is an essential tool in your tech stack for a number of reasons, whether it be creating transparency on property performance, saving time on creating reports, or communicating across language barriers. But an incredibly underrated value of an owner’s portal is its role in reducing double bookings across Airbnb, Vrbo, and other channels.

This is because – like all travelers – owners like to vacation too, and there is no better place to do it than for free in their own rental property. While they own the property, it’s the responsibility of the property manager to ensure that the property is not booked up when the owner wants to come to stay, otherwise, that would have all the consequences and implications of a double booking. To prevent this, Guesty’s Owners Portal allows owners to make reservations at their own property within their dashboard. Similar to an alternative booking channel, this will update the Multi-Calendar and other channels to prevent any guests from booking and spoiling the owner’s holiday!

Final Thoughts


We’ve talked about the fundamentals of Airbnb double bookings, how they arise, the cost of resolving them, as well as the ‘double-bookings shield’ of tech tools that you can implement. All in all, double bookings are not a pleasant experience for guests, owners, property managers or Airbnb hosts that have to resolve them in a timely manner. But by implementing the right tech tools, and having the right knowledge and setup in place, there is no reason why you can’t make double bookings a thing of the past for you on Airbnb, Vrbo, or whichever platform you choose to list your rental.

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