How to Avoid Double Booking Your Vacation Rentals

Even the most thriving vacation rental business can flounder following a few double bookings. Not only are they complex and costly to fix, but they can also tarnish your reputation and disappoint guests.

You might think, though, “They’re unavoidable if I list my properties across multiple platforms, right?” That actually doesn’t have to be the case. With the right technology, effective communication, and great property management practices in place, you can avoid double bookings with ease.

However, it first pays to understand the root causes of most double bookings on Airbnb,, Vrbo, and other platforms. Then, we’ll guide you through some actionable steps to ensure your guests enjoy a seamless stay.

What causes double bookings?

Double booking occurs when two or more guests reserve the same vacation rental for the same dates. This can happen due to a lack of synchronization between booking calendars or a mere miscommunication.

While unfortunate, it’s not uncommon. estimates that at least 25% of its partners get a double booking within their first year of listing on the platform, which means that if it happens to you, you’re not alone. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to reduce the risk!

Before exploring strategies for preventing double bookings, here are the four main reasons why they occur so you can start to learn whether or not you’re putting your vacation rental properties at risk.

Listing on multiple OTAs

One of the most common causes of double bookings is listing your property on multiple online travel agencies (OTAs) without proper calendar synchronization.

Expanding your reach across platforms like Airbnb,, Vrbo, and others increases your property’s visibility and chances of booking. However, it also raises the risk of overlapping reservations, especially if you’re not managing your availability properly.

Without real-time updates or integrated management systems like a great vacation rental channel manager, managing your various calendars isn’t just challenging—it’s often impossible.

Multiple listings for the same property

Property managers sometimes create multiple listings for the same property to target different audiences or highlight unique features of the rental. However, managing these listings separately can lead to confusion and oversight, particularly if each listing has its own booking calendar.

This fragmented (and, dare we say, disorganized) approach makes it difficult to track and update availability accurately, increasing the likelihood of double bookings.

Long-term stays with flexible check-out dates

Allowing guests to book your short-term accommodation on a long-term basis can sometimes be a smart move. It’s an interesting pricing strategy that can increase occupancy and revenue in the long run. But you guessed it: It also comes at the cost of increased chances of double booking.

Just imagine that a long-term guest decides to extend their stay at the last minute (under the illusion that it’s available), but the property has been booked based on the original departure date, leading to a scheduling conflict.

We’ll cover some tips and strategies for avoiding this in just a bit, but ensuring clear communication and strict policies about extensions is important in these situations.

Late check-outs and early check-ins

Offering guests the convenience of late check-outs or early check-ins can enhance their experience, sure. But if you’re not careful about setting strict policies and managing those later or early arrivals and departures, you run the risk of having guests overlap.

While this isn’t technically a “double booking” in the traditional sense, it is something you want to avoid.

When the turnaround time between guests is too short (or not properly managed), you not only risk having guests run into each other at the property, but it also doesn’t allow you enough time to properly clean and prepare the space.

Why is it important to avoid double bookings?

Double bookings aren’t just a headache—they can significantly damage your brand image and lead to (rightfully) dissatisfied guests.

Not only that, but OTAs are now imposing stringent penalties on hosts for cancellations. Here’s a brief overview of each OTA’s cancellation penalties for owners to ensure you’re prepared for the consequences of a double booking.

Airbnb double booking fee

Airbnb updated its host cancellation fee in October 2023 and charges a minimum of $50. However, the actual fee varies depending on when you cancel the booking:

  • 48 hours or less before check-in: 50% of the reservation amount
  • 48 hours and 30 days before check-in: 25% of the reservation amount
  • More than 30 days before check-in: 10% of the reservation amount

There are extenuating circumstances under which Airbnb might waive the fee, but you have to contact them to argue your case. Otherwise, as mentioned, if you cancel a guest’s reservation due to a double booking, you’ll be charged accordingly (at a minimum of $50).

Expedia double booking fee

Expedia offers a few host cancellation policies to balance flexibility for guests and revenue security for hosts:

  • The Fully Refundable policy allows guests to cancel up until midnight on the day after booking for a full refund.
  • The Partially Refundable option allows for a 50% refund.
  • The Non-Refundable policy secures upfront revenue for hosts, ideal during peak demand. double booking fee is a bit more flexible across the board, suggesting you find other ways to accommodate the guest before escalating it to a full cancellation.

Additionally, they don’t charge a commission for a double booking if your property hasn’t been on the platform for at least 30 days or if you haven’t had more than four double bookings in the last 12 months.

Unfortunately, if you don’t meet those conditions, you will be charged for the full reservation cost.

Vrbo double booking fee

Vrbo’s double booking cancellation fee for hosts is similar to Airbnb’s in that it follows a tiered structure.

Cancellations within 48 hours of check-in or after incur a fee of 50% of the reservation amount for the nights not stayed. If canceled more than 48 hours but less than 30 days before check-in, the fee is 25% of the reservation amount.

For cancellations made more than 30 days before check-in, the fee drops to 10%. Like Airbnb, the minimum fee is $50, meaning that even if the percentage is lower than that, they’ll still charge you $50 for canceling a doubling booking.

How to avoid double bookings

Want to avoid the fees mentioned above? Fortunately, with strategic management and the right tools, you can minimize or even eliminate the risk of overbooking your property.

Here are essential tips to help you maintain a smooth booking process.

Utilize a channel manager

The best way to prevent double bookings is to use a channel manager as part of your vacation rental software! A channel manager serves as a bridge between your property and multiple booking platforms. It centralizes your listings, automating the synchronization of availability calendars across all sites where your property is featured.

Let’s say you list on Airbnb and Vrbo, and you’ve synced your Airbnb and Vrbo calendars, for example. When a booking is made on Vrbo, the channel manager instantly updates your property’s availability on Airbnb, drastically reducing the risk of double bookings.

Set clear check-in and check-out policies

Aside from ensuring your calendars are always synced, the next best thing you can do is establish and communicate clear check-in and check-out policies to your guests.

This includes setting strict times for both checking in and checking out of your properties and allowing sufficient time between bookings to manage any discrepancies or last-minute changes.

Adequate buffer time reduces the chances of overlapping bookings and provides a window for cleaning and preparing the property for the next guest, both important aspects of a stellar guest stay.

Regularly audit your workflows

Periodically audit your booking processes and platforms to identify potential issues or inefficiencies that could lead to double bookings.

This could involve checking synchronization features, reviewing reservation policies, and ensuring all listings accurately reflect your property’s availability. Regular audits help catch and correct small issues before they lead to bigger (and more costly) problems.

Get started with a vacation rental channel manager

While you can manually work to update and manage your calendar for each of your short-term rental properties, avoiding double bookings is a whole lot easier with a great channel manager.

Lodgify’s channel manager is an award-winning tool that seamlessly integrates with top online booking platforms—including Airbnb, Vrbo,, and Expedia—allowing for real-time synchronization of your calendars across all channels.

This level of integration ensures that your bookings, calendars, and rates are automatically updated, eliminating the need for manual calendar adjustments after every booking. The result? A significant reduction in the risk of double bookings, saving you time and enhancing guest satisfaction.

Start optimizing your property management today with a free 7-day trial of Lodgify and experience the ease of integrated, hassle-free booking management.

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