Instant Book basics
Instant Book is a powerful tool that allows guests to instantly book your home for available dates—alleviating the need for hosts to review and accept each booking request individually. Many hosts report that they earn more money by making the booking process easier for guests, and that they appreciate the convenience this provides. Listings with Instant Book also tend to show up higher in Airbnb search results. “The Instant Book feature has worked very well for us,” says host Antonio of Goa, India. “I keep the calendar updated and many guests book without my intervention.”
Keeping your calendar up-to-date is key to using Instant Book successfully. If you’re not able to do this, you could be surprised by unexpected bookings or end up canceling a reservation due to a scheduling error—an Airbnb no-no that could result in a cancellation fee. To ensure that your Airbnb calendar is always current, it’s a good idea to sync it with whatever calendar you primarily use (iCal, Google, etc). Here’s a tutorial on how to do that.
Tools for extra peace of mind
Some hosts may initially feel hesitant to use Instant Book because they worry that they won’t have much information about potential guests before booking. You can set your preferences to offer Instant Book only to guests who have received positive reviews from other hosts, and/or guests who have government-issued IDs. You can also create a custom greeting and include important questions (for instance, “Who else will be staying with you? What’s the purpose of your trip? Can you confirm you’ve read the House Rules?) that Instant Book guests will see during their booking process. After the booking is confirmed, you can follow up to ask additional questions if needed. “I used to require reservation requests,” says host Kristine from San Francisco, “but once I realized that what I was looking for in guests (positive ratings) could be handled automatically by Airbnb, it actually made more sense for me to use Instant Book to get the benefits of more views and bookings, while maintaining the same level of guest quality I enjoyed by reviewing requests myself.”
Why you might still get booking requests
Even with Instant Book turned on, there are cases where you might receive booking requests from guests. This could happen if you haven’t updated your calendar in a while, or if you’ve recently needed to cancel a reservation. Guests who don’t meet your criteria to book instantly might also send reservation requests. For any requests that do come through, you’ll need to respond by accepting or declining the reservation, or messaging your prospective guests within 24 hours.
Why some hosts don’t use Instant Book
Despite the many benefits of Instant Book, some hosts find that reservation requests work better for them. Annie, a host in Sonoma, California, uses reservation requests because she only offers long-term stays of 30 days or more, to comply with hosting regulations in her area. “I would love to use Instant Book, but there are a lot more logistics to figure out when you’re hosting someone for that long,” she says. “It’s more like having a tenant.”
Nichola, a host in Guelph, Canada, has an environmental sensitivity that requires her to keep her space scent free, so she uses reservation requests to ensure that guests are willing to agree to her very specific house rules. “I get migraines from scented products so I need to make sure my guests are folks who understand scent allergies,” she says.
Another reason to choose booking requests rather than Instant Book might be that your space has specific qualities that you need to make sure guests understand before their stay. Examples might include a private room in a home that includes pets or children, or an extremely rustic space that might be challenging for certain guests. Booking requests can be a good choice for assuring that guests are aware of all the unique aspects of your home before they visit.
Reliability is key for using Instant Book
Whatever decision you make, remember that Airbnb has strict policies around hosts canceling reservations, because reliability is a critical part of being a great host. That said, if you allow guests to instantly book and are uncomfortable with a reservation once it’s made (for instance, because your prospective guests are asking if they can break your house rules), you can cancel a booking without penalty using the online cancellation tool up to three times per calendar year. Just know that canceling a reservation signals that Instant Book may not be a good fit for you right now, so if you do this, Airbnb may send booking requests instead for your next few reservations.
Want to update your settings to turn Instant Book on or off? Here’s how to do it.
This has happened to me and here is what Airbnb said....
The guest can book without government ID, but must provide it to -Airbnb before arriving at my cottage or the reservation will be cancelled and they lose their money. Does this really happen?
Airbnb will take payment regardless of the name on or ownership of the card. I had a daughter use her credit card to pay for the reservation made in her mother’s name.
Did you kmow that if guest has been part of a group booking made by someone else other than them and the group gets a positive review then they can use instant book even though they have no got any reviews of their own.
that is a huge issue, and Airbnb shows no consideration nor respect for hosts security by doing so. I myself many times have called Airbnb staff to attract their attention about this, but they do not want to look at this as long as they only look at more business at any cost, as long their own security is not as stake.
It used to be mandatory for guests to register govt I’d before booking. This was the big difference between Airbnb and other booking agencies BUT this is no longer the case and in fact if you don’t allow instant book then you cannot require that guest suite register their ID. I have been on Airbnb since 2013 and a super host consistently but feel unfairly treated. Since I refuse to use instant book, my guests ID is not always registered and I don’t rank as high in the searches. No loyalty for long term hosts.
I agree with you. I have never used Instant Book because I want to retain control over who rents my house. The initial inquiry and how the potential guest interacts with me in the message inbox gives me the information I need to feel it will be a good booking or not. The times I have gone against my better judgement usually proved me right, and not in a good way!
But despite excellent reviews and superhost status, my home's listing is far, far down the list - sometimes to the point where I can't even find it. I have questioned ABB about this, and was given a bunch of malarkey about 'algorhythms.' It is now dawning on me that this is actually the reason, that I am being penalized because I will not use Instant Book. :(
I totally agree and I have had the same punishment.
My listing is often so low that Airbnb presents homes in other communities around us before showing mine.
Yes, Peggy. You absolutely ARE being penalized. I too am a Superhost with 3 properties. 2 of my properties are much like the examples given in this article of "When Instant Book doesn't work for you"; very old lake cottages that some find too rustic and despite instructions to thoroughly read the listing, there are those that clearly do not do so and are disappointed in their stay expecting a modern hotel type experience. The other is a longer term stay requirement due to local laws. My listings all but disappeared when I took off instant book. ALSO they don't let you read reviews of potential guest UNLESS you allow instant book! That is counterintuitive. A main reason NOT to have instant book is because you want to be able to vet your potential guests.
Think about this from a potential guest’s standpoint. Who wants to make phone calls, texts or emails to a host just to book; this is an instant everything world. When I find a place I want to stay in, I’ll book it. If there are hoops to jump through? Forget it!
Airbnb exists to serve the guests’ needs, that’s it. That’s the reality of our current society; technology making everything fast and convenient. If you want to add barriers to that convenience, it makes sense from the guests’ perspective to push the less convenient listings further down. You’re not so much taking issue with Airbnb as with society as a whole.
@Neil-and-Ellen0 You said: "Who wants to make phone calls, texts or emails to a host just to book"
Plenty of people. I've had many guests who told me they would never Instant Book- they want to get a sense of the host they'll be staying with before committing, just I want to get a sense of guests before accepting. And those are the kind of guests i want. I'm not interested in having guests who find it too onerous to send me a booking request.
While some hosts who use Instant Book have reported on these forums that it works quite well for them, the majority of serious issues with guests that are reported here are guests who have IBed. Hosts who require guests to send a request seem to not have as many issues with their guests.
I've never used IB, I never will, and in 3 years of hosting, I have never had any issues with bad guests, or guests who didn't bother to read through the listing description.
You should be on the same place on the list regardless of whether or not you want to do instant booking. The searcher has the option to put instant booking on the top of their list. listings should be placed based on selections of the searching person. If they don't have the instant booking request on their search, then the other units should show up first on their list. The instant booking at the top is just an Airbnb way to force Us into their way. Airbnb is suppose to be peoples homes that they are sharing. People wanting instant places like you, should look at hotels.
In most countries, it is a police requirement to keep record of all guest, and to validate their ID. When checking in at hotels/motels, the front desk asks for an ID, validate the guest against pic on ID, validate # of guests, and swipe a credit card for incidentals. Hotels also employ security guards on premise, to handle non compliance during stay, and have access to black-list of bad guest. In essence, hotels walk the talk, and enforce their house rules to provide secure, and enjoyable stay. It is unclear what Airbnb does about enforcement...
Agreed! It is very frustrating how the strict rules carry instant and sometimes long lasting consequences for hosts but the guest does not have the same requirements.
I've had guests trying to book with only a phone number and with a message ‘ I’ll be there at 7’.
There is a housing shortage in Canada because the landlord tenant act is so favourable towards the tenant and the landlord having little to no rights, I can see the same future for Airbnb if they don’t protect their hosts more.
I was required to have a govt. id as a guest, and again, as a host, I was required to provide an ID. I have never understood why airbnbn doesn't demand ID's from others. I also spend time asking people to upload an ID to airbnb. I feel that I am doing airbnb's job for them.