Instant booking vs manually accepting

Level 3
Peterborough, Canada

Instant booking vs manually accepting

Hi there! Brand new host & already have a couple of questions. Do most hosts find it better to have to accept or decline  stays, or do the instant booking?

Also, already ran into someone asking to book, so I sent an acceptance to book & a few minutes later had someone else wanting to book for same date. So I told first person that if they don’t want to book, to please let me know as I have someone else wanting to book. They haven’t responded. Should I just accept the second persons request?

1 Best Answer

Thank you for all your responses. Lots of good info to consider. I have turned instant book on with parameters & I’ll see how it goes. 

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12 Replies 12
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@Sylvia929 2nd question first: Yes just accept the second persons request.

Now for some other thoughts:

You need to understand the difference between a booking enquiry and a booking request. The former does not commit the guest in any way and guests can (and some do) spray enquiries around like confetti. The latter is a commitment from the guest and if you accept then they are booked. Airbnb requires you to answer enquiries and accept/decline requests within 24 hrs. It also tries to get you to accept/decline an enquiry but I wouldn't do that if I were you as declines may count against you in the algorithm and should only be used to decline an unwanted booking request.

We like Instant Book and have had it on since we started. It gives us the opportunity to see everything about the guest and we can cancel if we don't think the guest will obey the rules etc. Now you will hear horror stories about new hosts and IB being targeted by bad guests - It may be true but we are in a non-party location and live next door to our listing. That said I would never use IB for a house share as I would care far more as to the type of person coming into my house.

Hope this helps

Level 10
Toronto, Canada

Using instant booking and/or request is on a case-by-case imo. If you can afford to turn off instant booking and still get bookings, then by all means, turn it off. Otherwise instant booking does give your property a bit of an edge.


We are current using different instant booking settings for our listings and it's a #yolo thing. 


Having experimented with instant booking/request to book, in the end it doesn't matter that much. You can get good guests either way. 


New guests with no trips taken can be a bit of a gamble, since they don't know what they should be doing so they need an experienced host to hold their hand on their first trip. If you're just starting out, you might want to avoid taking on this kind of guest(s). 

Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain



You can set your instant book filters to only allow guests with profile, verified ID and photo, and without any bad reviews (although this means that someone with no reviews can instant book). This is no guarantee, but it does tend to filter out those who have no profile or ID, or with any bad reviews, which are generally considered red flags.


We allow instant book (but with all of those filters on) only because it improves our search ratings. And so far, we haven't had a bad instant book guest. But I've always said that the first time we get a bad guest on instant book, it's going off.



Level 3
Melbourne, Australia

I use instant book, but its not the be all and end all, like Zheng45 said. I have had bad guest with good reviews and vice versa. But one thing with noting is that having instant book gives you an edge (i have read somewhere) some people will move on if the listing have no instant book because it sometimes takes too long for a response. Hope this helped.

Level 10
Marbella, Spain

Tip for newbies on instant book:

Set you parameters to strictest possible: ID required, photo required, prior positive reviews.  This allows you to benefit from higher ranking in search results since instant book is on, but most guests will have to send a trip request anyway.

Also, Be sure to use the IB message in your parameters!

This is one of the only things that is clearly shown to guests before they click to pay!

You have about 500 characters to set the tone such as:

"H! thanks for requesting to book our place!
- Please introduce yourself and request your check in time!
- Please find and read the house rules, BEFORE you book!
- Check in window is until X pm, if you need exceptions ask before you book!
- Go back, scroll down and tap "contact host" if you have any questions for us before booking!"

Also make sure to update your house rules for the things that are most important to you.  Guests do not read them, but it's your protection in case of an instant booking who did not read your rules that you need to cancel (for example arriving outside of your check in window, or whatever other issue is a deal-breaker for you).

You'll get a feeling pretty quick for the kind of guests you want to accept, based on the way they correspond.  In general I never regret zapping "non responders"; If someone doesn't have the courtesy to answer my messages I don't want that kind of guest staying.

Good luck!

Level 2
Naples, Italy


io ho impostato la prenotazione immediata applicando alcuni parametri (documento di riconoscimento e recensioni) assicurandomi in questo modo un livello di affidabilità. Livello che sino ad oggi è stato elevato, tranne pochi casi, la prenotazione immediata mi è stata utile.

Senza alcuni paramenti gli ospiti inviano una richiesta di prenotazione e li puoi comprender eil grado di affidabilità e quindi procedere per la preventiva autorizzazione.





I set up the immediate booking by applying some parameters (identification document and reviews), thus ensuring a level of reliability. Level which up to now has been high, except for a few cases, immediate booking has been useful to me.

Without any parameters, guests send a booking request and you can understand the degree of reliability and then proceed for prior authorization.


[Google translation added by OCM]

Level 10
Charleston, SC


I've used both without any real issues, but turned off Instant Book a few years ago. 


I like the peace of mind. I think psychologically some guest will tend to respect it more as it adds some structure, although it's important to communicate structure and boundaries anyway.  Guest in general like structure and it helps deter any miscreant behavior. 

Every listing is different. If anything I get too many bookings. Mine is too popular. I just updated the listing with some upgrades and new photos. That blows away any kind of little adjustment with settings. Either you have a place want to book and love it or not.

Also some things I may not want a guest to stay again. Nothing major, maybe food stains I was able to get out, or cig butts in trash. Those kind of guest don't tend to read the listing. I have more issues like that with guest with a lot of 5 star reviews. I don't have to hold guest hand with no reviews. They tend to be more respectful as they want their first trip to be a good one. As long as guest include a brief little first message they are fine! 

I also turned off the profile pic requirement. Some guest will be concerned about their personal information. There are other ways to add a sense of structure and guest really like a sense of established boundaries and communication. 

BTW... Back when I used IB host were allowed 3 cancellations per year (12 months) for any reason without penalty. Once ABB changed the policy there was little reason to use IB.  Then ABB removed the requirement for a first message when booking on IB. That's when things started getting stressful to host.  They had to reinstate that because so many host tuned off IB, because zero communication simply ins't an option. 

Airbnb is also constantly changing making it more convenient for guest. The old saying "the horse left the barn". Both ABB and host blur the lines with safety issues with out realizing it. It's more important for a host to recognize this and create a more structured environment, as its human nature to become controlling and opportunistic.

Host have to figure things out on their own. The economy and oversupply means host have to adapt, and can't rely on some minor adjustment to their settings, and have to find a more creative approach to maintain a stress free and successful hosting experience. 



Community Manager
Community Manager
Port Moody, Canada

Hi @Sylvia929 welcome to Airbnb and the Community Center!


You’ve asked some excellent questions, and our Hosts have offered fantastic suggestions. Have you had a chance to read any of them? Are you considering using Instant Book?


Keep us posted ✌️



Please follow the Community Guidelines // Por favor consulta las Normas de la comunidad

Thank you for all your responses. Lots of good info to consider. I have turned instant book on with parameters & I’ll see how it goes. 

Community Manager
Community Manager
Port Moody, Canada

Great @Sylvia929 😊 Keep us posted on how it goes, and we hope to keep reading your contributions in our community.



Please follow the Community Guidelines // Por favor consulta las Normas de la comunidad

Level 2
Brownsville, TX

@Sylvia929 I have Instabook OFF.  My listing states "Please read entire listing.   We have Instabook off to ensure this is a good fit for you".  This works perfectly for us.