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.
I like Instant Book as it takes the pressure off my having to be the negotiator. However I agree with the few hosts who have complained about losing their Superhost status when having to refuse a guest. The lady I had to refuse insisted that her little dog sleep with her. ( Not so good for following guests,)
However I lost my Superhost status over that and haven't regained it. Maybe it is because I don't have a Gas Detector fitted. I feel that is unnecessary as I don't have gas in my home!!
I'd love to hear from Airbnb about this aspect of their policy.
It makes no sense that you would lose your Super Host status for those reasons! And what the heck is a gas detector??? I've never seen any requirements to have that installed. I don't even know what that is. There must be something else going on there....
I don't care for the instant booking. I don't even care for the new way of booking. Before I could review the person and decide if that was someone I wanting wandering around in my house, Now I have to accept the booking and then cancel if the Person seems to be a party Animal. I realize that they probably do this to prevent discrimination, but it really makes me not want to use the program. As for Instant booking. Sometimes I can take a person within a Day other times my schedule doesn't allow for this, if I put it on instant booking, it is either yes you can book instant for the next day, or no, you must give a certain amount of notice. . I would like to say Instant bookings require a 1 week notice, and at the same time I am able to self approve a next night booking. but the system isn't set up for this to be an option for me.
David in Sydney NSW, Australia
I favour instant book however I have had a couple of instances where the system came unstuck. I recently blocked out a period of 10 days or so for private use but still received an instant book over the top. I reported this to Airbnb Help and after some considerable time including a long explanation with the "guest" the situation was resolved although not without passing through the 'punishment' period of Airbnb referrals for a couple of months. The point I found most irritating was the fact that Airbnb did not assume responsibility for this over-booking.
One disadvantage of instant book is that the system does not forget but you do, so you can receive a booking which is totally inconvenient to your private life - fortunately Airbnb has realised this with its policy of "three cancellations without detriment".
International personal and cyber security is a problem of significant concern. Airbnb needs to enforce the personal ID requirement for guests including a photograph. Without being an alarmist, the Airbnb platform needs to be able to at least insist on this quite simple requirement to protect hosts.
I have received a number of instant bookings from persons living in Sydney who book on behalf of their parents or relatives living overseas. This doesn't worry me too much but the circumstance tends to enter the realm of 'personal security' and I suggest Airbnb should also examine this situation.
Me hubiera gustado que Airbnb hiciera esta pregunta en castellano para la comunidad de hosts que usamos esta llengua. A veces podemos hacer un esfuerzo en inglés, però para temas delicades necesitamos expresarnos en nuestra llengua pròpia.
Sobre el IB.
Normalmente pido poca información al huésped de estàncies cortas: foto, ID, breve mensaje, que acepte conscientemente las Normas de la Casa.
Como que es un proceso de validación senzillo, se puede automatitzar a través del IB perfectamente, de manera que el proceso de reserva se agiliza para todos.
Está pasando que muchas reserves por IB son de usuarios sin foto, sin ID, no contestan el mensaje de confirmación de las normes... y luego vienen las cancel·lacions, en el peor de los casos con penalización de Airbnb.
Me gustaria saber por qué se han eliminado estos filtros.
También me gustaria que el IB solo se pudiera validar con un código que el amfitrión pone en su descripción, como una clave de acceso personalitzada que garantice que el huésped leyó el anuncio y sabe cómo es el lugar.
En estàncies largas el IB directamente debería estar prohibido, pues a menudo este tipo de pernoctaciones están sujetas a una normativa distinta, sobretodo en relación a la fianza, contrato, reparacions, y demàs obligaciones y derechos del inquilino.
Conclusión: me gusta el IB però los filtros de Airbnb están fallando, con lo cuál ahora mismo es una herramienta más peligrosa para el amfitrión que útil.
We really enjoy instant book and wish that all of our guests use it. We require Govt ID to be on file.
Our issue is that we still get requests to book with people that do not have Govt ID on file. In this case we send out a template email asking them and showing them a link to add their Govt ID and then they can instant book.
The big issue is that I must respond within 24 hrs to decline or accept them per AirBnb in order to keep my response rating up. This is a complete MESS. Due to this I have to send a long email explaining to the potential guest WHY I must decline and please do not be offended. And Air BNB does not allow a "canned" email response to be used on decline or accept responses......CHANGE This PLEASE!!!
I spend valuable time responding to potential guests trying to make sure a decline does not offend them, and waiting around to see if they will book or not is a complete waste of my time.
Currently I just blame AirBnb policies for the decline, but I still have to spend the time to explain why.
1) Either add a Canned response that I can create along with my Decline
2) Do not allow inquiries if the guest does not fit my instant book criteria
3) Do not require my response (i.e. effect my response rate) if the guest does not meet my criteria
Otherwise Instant book works great with our properties
I like Instant Book and offer it on my 4 listings. It's also a plus when I travel because it offers immediate confirmation on where we'll stay.
My one issue with IB is that it lumps in the no prior reviews setting with bad reviews regardless of length of time a guest has had his Airbnb account. I have found that "new to Airbnb" guests who just set their account up in order to book their trip are generally wonderful guests to host. I love these guests and am happy to answer their questions and introduce them to how Airbnb works.
My not so wonderful guests tend to be the "experienced" guests who have no reviews in spite of having Airbnb profiles set up in previous years. I suspect this is because many hosts don't negatively review bad guests-- chalk it up to human nature not wanting to engage in conflict or bad karma?-- and instead just don't post a review. These no prior review guests as well as negatively reviewed guests are who I'd prefer not to offer IB to. If they request to book, and I'm able to glean info from them that promises a better (or at least neutral) hosting experience, I would be happy to accept their booking. But offering IB for these guests is a risk.
Could Airbnb offer that distinction in IB settings, pretty please?