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What are double bookings?

A double booking, also known as overbooking, refers to when two or more parties book a vacation rental for the same nights. While it is a common occurrence, double bookings are extremely harmful to the reputation of a vacation rental owner. Because the host will have to cancel on one of the guests and leave them without accommodation, there’s a high chance that a negative review will follow. 

Double bookings

How to Handle and Avoid Double Bookings

If you’re dealing with a double booking, the best option is to cancel as soon as possible to give your guests enough time to find another place to stay. Send them a genuine apology and offer a discount for future dates. 

The best way to handle double bookings and avoid them in the future is by using a property management software that offers a channel manager. If your property is listed on multiple online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb and Expedia, it’s likely that the cause for your double bookings is a delay in updates across all channels. We don’t blame you – there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into manually updating each platform and even then, the chance for human error lingers. 

A channel manager allows you to sync calendars and availability from different channels onto one centralized platform. For example, if your property gets booked on, it’ll automatically become unavailable on the other channels. Having this features makes running a vacation rental business much more efficient and structured. 

Why Is It Important to Avoid Double Bookings?

Avoiding double bookings is crucial because it can negatively affect your brand image and guest satisfaction. In order to reduce the number of cancellations, OTAs now tend to heavily penalize hosts for cancelling on guests, meaning it’s likely that the money will come out of your pockets. Because each OTA has different cancellation penalties for owners, it’s important to know the consequences of each in order to be prepared. 

Unless you’ve had 10 consecutive bookings without any cancellations, Airbnb will deduct up to $100 if a reservation is cancelled a week before check-in. You’ll receive an automated review and even worse, lose your Superhost status eligibility for a year. 

Expedia revolves around quality scores, which is directly affected by cancelling due to a double booking. Not only will this hurt the hard work you’ve put in for months trying to build a reputation, but you’ll also have to pay relocation fees for the guests. requires you to cover your guest’s cost for transportation to their new accommodation, as well as the difference in price between the two properties.

On Vrbo, if an owner cancels a reservation less than 30 days before the stay, they are required to pay 50% of the rent. 

If you’re listed on Tripadvisor, the platform penalizes hosts by charging a cancellation fee and by dropping their ranking. This means that you’ll get less exposure and less bookings. 

Last but not least, Homeaway charges a fee for cancellations and drops your ranking.