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For vacation rental owners and managers who prefer taking booking requests over instant bookings, there is one task that can make us all feel a bit awkward: declining inquiries. Whatever the reasons are for not accepting a booking request, knowing what to say (if you respond at all) can make the situation a lot easier to handle.

Let’s take a look at the top six best practice tips for declining vacation rental inquiries.

1. Be polite

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to declining guests is that you still need to remain courteous, polite and professional – or your vacation rental reputation could be on the line.

It’s not essential to be specific with each guest, you could even write a generalized template for declining inquiries that you can use time and time again.

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No matter the case, always remember to thank guests for their inquiry. If you want to specify the reason why you’re not accepting, feel free. Otherwise, you can prepare something generic that can be used for all your declined bookings, such as:

“Unfortunately we cannot accommodate your booking request at this time. Good luck with your search and wishing you a wonderful vacation”.

2. Be helpful

Sometimes when you read the inquiry, you know straight away that the guest (or group of guests) is unsuitable for your vacation rental – that’s OK. Nobody wants to make the other feel bad in this situation, so there are some things you can do to make declining the inquiry a little smoother.

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Perhaps you have other rental owner friends nearby in your area whose home would be a better fit – why not direct these guests onwards to a more appropriate rental? You’ll be helping out a contact by bringing them a new booking, and you’ll stay on good terms with the potential guest in case they come back with a more suitable inquiry in the future.

3. Be honest

One of the best ways you can decline an inquiry that doesn’t suit is simply by being honest and being yourself – provided your reasons aren’t going to offend or discriminate against anyone!

After all, this is part of the process that differentiates vacation rentals and hotels – hotels accept all kinds of guests, but as this is your home, you are the only person who has final say on who stays and who doesn’t.

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On the whole, people appreciate transparency. There is no need to make up a story to back up the reasons you’re declining a guest. Simply be honest, they will get the message and look somewhere else.

4. Set rules in your description and refer back to them

If your inquirer has mentioned something in their message that specifically contradicts or clashes with what your listing states, make it known that that is the reason you are declining them.

Not only will referring back to your listing help you come across as responsible and fair for having the same terms and conditions for every inquiry, but it will also teach the potential guests to really pay attention and read the listing thoroughly before requesting to book. This will help avoid disappointment on both ends.

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There is no need to be aggressive in your responses, simply state that “as mentioned in the description, we don’t accept [pets/children/more than 10 guests] so will not be able to accommodate your request this time”.

5. Listen to your gut instinct – it’s your home

Some owners are drowned with guilt after denying a booking request, but others don’t think twice. When it comes down to it, there is no need to feel at fault if you find a booking request to be unsuitable.

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Common sense and gut instincts can also play a big role in this particular kind of decision making – especially when it comes to renting out your home. If something doesn’t feel right about an inquiry, it probably isn’t! And you don’t want to fall victim to a vacation rental scam.

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It’s always better to be cautious than get caught off-guard, even if that does mean accepting one less booking every now and then.

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say…

As the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Most vacation rental websites and OTAs have simple buttons for answering booking inquiries, so if finding the words to decline an inquiry doesn’t come naturally to you – don’t fret.

Declining Vacation Rental Inquiries 7A simple click of the ‘deny’ or ‘decline’ button will solve the issue for you, leaving you free to get on with your day and more importantly, manage your other booking requests!


What’s your experience of declining inquiries been like? Do you have a story to tell? Let us know in the comments!

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