Don't make it mandatory for new hosts to use Instant Book

Status changed to: Launched

I think BnB shouldn't make it mandatory for some new hosts to use Instant Book. This has led to new hosts having to take on unsuitable, guests or being penalised because they don't understand the system and cancel guests who aren't a good match. It has also led to concern from existing hosts that it will be made mandatory for all hosts.


It isn't a good introduction for new hosts to being on BnB. There are numerous complaints on the other forums and social media.


I have contacted BnB via social media and the other forums to try and understand why it is doing this and get a response on behalf of new and existing hosts. However BnB refuses to answer and just says it will pass my comments on (to who?) or that new hosts can use house rules to filter.


It never answers the simple question - why have you introduced manadatory Instant Booking for new hosts and will you allow hosts who are uncomfortable with this to turn it off?


As we know no house rules can cover all bases and it is often when communicating with a guest that you understand whether they are a good match.

Response from Airbnb

Instant Book is not mandatory for any host - although we encourage hosts to give Instant Book a shot.


If you do decide to turn on Instant Book, there are safeguards in place to help make sure that you’re only accepting bookings from suitable guests. You can choose to only accept Instant Book from guests who have been recommended by other hosts, you can require Instant Book to accept guests who have government-issued ID, and all Instant Book guests must agree to your House Rules. Plus, you can cancel Instant Book reservations immediately without penalty of any kind, if you feel uncomfortable with our guest or with someone who breaks your house rules.


Many hosts find that they get up to two times the reservations when they turn on Instant Book.

You can find more information here.

Jiw in
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level 10

I couldn't agree more.

It seems an ill thought-through experiment after getting scared of a little bad press regarding alleged racism among some hosts. (From an incredibly flawed research paper, finding an extremely small difference in acceptance of non-white guests.)


Also, why actually bother with guest reviews at all when you won't get the chance to decline a booking anyway?


Plus many guests don't read all the listing details, so it's actually completely crucial that I confirm for excample that the sleeping arrangements will work for their group, confirm the total number of guests to make sure there aren't two or three additional big kids travelling who won't have enough space, etc. 


This is really a terrible idea that goes against one of the cornerstones of AirBnB's success, that it's a real 'community' where actual communication happens before a stay is finalized.  (Unlike terrible services like TripAdvisor; don't become like them.)


This really has the potential to make AirBnB jump the shark as a lodging service.

Andrea9 in
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Level 10
I too couldn't agree more. Many of the new hosts this feature has been foisted upon are frustrated and faced with all of the challenges of a new host when reservation pour in while they weren't even informed what was going on. Additionally, it's not great advertising when the booking guests have their instant bookings cancelled because a new host had no choice. The reason that Airbnb is the booking site of choice is BECAUSE it was possible to 'talk' with a prospective guest to see if they fit and control whether or not they felt good, safe, or agreeable to accepting their reservation. Forced Instant book opens the door to having to host guests that do not embody the good intent of trust&safety. You really must have realized this by now too??!
Jude7 in
Rhinebeck, NY
Level 10

If Insfant Book was forced upon me I would feel I had no choice but to stop being a host.  Communication with a perspective guest is crucial to me, because I have come to see that it is the quality of the relationship that determines the quality of the host/guest experience. 


My home and the well-being of my family is my most precious asset. If I can't monitor and use my own discretion about what constitutes a good hosting match, I would be forced to explore other avenues.


i can't stress this point enough. The forcing of Instant Book upon other hosts has been a source of great disappointment to me, diminishing the respect I've had for Airbnb.

Oberoi in
Level 2

I totally agree with Helen

In fact when BNB is asking for credit card details even before the guest could chat with the host some guests just drop the idea to book through BNB and go elsewhere 

Linda108 in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

I have Instant Book turned on by choice and so far it has worked as per my requirements.  However, I would never want it to be a requirement and I would seriously consider leaving Air BNB if I felt I didn't have a choice.

Christine1 in
Glenbrook, Australia
Level 10

Hosting is something that a huge cross section of people come to with a grab bag of skills and attitudes which can be as varied as their homes and beds. To expect that a high proportion of hosting experiences will be optimal for both parties if facilitated by Instant Book may not be realistic. If conversation on community forums is anything to go by, I would say that imposed Instant Book needs to be considered as a failed experiment and a big mistake by the marketing department.
If Airbnb is not about "Going to " but living with or living in a place and living with people as a family visitor or esteemed guest, for the purpose of connecting and living like a local, then Instant Book operates to facilitate a contrary outcome. The original concept of home-sharing and connecting across townships, communities and cultures seems to be contradicted by Instant Book.
I am concerned that while the encouragement is to use Instant Book for the sake of getting more bookings, is this just fostering a sense of competition between hosts, and my concern is that it may be driven by competition with external accommodation agencies, to the detriment of developing a sound booking and hosting service with Airbnb, and unfortunately increasing the degree of problems that new and inexperienced hosts may face. The damage to the reputation of Airbnb, hosts who are uncomfortable with their guests, and hosts who consequently cancel on their guests is quite concerning. I think it's critical that the internet is not littered with stories from disgruntled guests who have their accommodation cancelled or discover too late that they have mistakenly booked something that doesn't match their expectations. A pre booking conversation is one of the better ways to develop hosting skills and prepare guests for their visit.
In the long run instant book will probably do less to develop hosting skills and cost more time to Airbnb and hosts in fixing problems. It should always be optional and definitely unavailable to inexperienced hosts.
Regards Christine.

Linda108 in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

All the comments on this issue are articulate, on point and supportive of the mission of Air BNB.  Last week I had the chance to tour the San Francisco Headquarters of Air BNB.  The energy and creativity was very evident as the mostly under 30 employees went about their work.  It affirmed for me that Air BNB has the potential to continue to be cutting edge and a positive force in the global community.  I know this site is monitored by Air BNB.  Please let us know we are being heard.

Jude7 in
Rhinebeck, NY
Level 10

I couldn't agree more with the articulately expressed comments on this thread. What attracted me initially to Airbnb was the notion of person to person connection. Because I've been able to establish excellent communication with guests before, during, and after their stay, my experience, and that of my guests has been exceptional, completely meeting my personal objectives, and upholding what I have believed the objectives of Airbnb to be. 


I also agree with @Linda108 that some feedback every now and then from Airbnb admins to these boards would be valuable. Even Google has staff jump in every now and then to let forum posters know they're being heard. 


The he only negative I have experienced so far with Airbnb has been the degree of frustration expressed over and over again on the community pages - mostly about the same issues - difficulty in reaching Airbnb to resve problems, sometimes ones that are urgent, and problems and frustrations with Instant Book. 


Hosts need to feel empowered. Airbnb is a platform based on communication and relationship. Although those objective seem to be well met host to host and host to guest, the connection between host and guest to Airbnb seems to be conspicuously lacking - but such an easy fix. 


Communication, communication, communication. The backbone of any good relationship of any sort. @

Jude7 in
Rhinebeck, NY
Level 10

@Lindamentioned visiting the high energy creative offices of Airbnb and that it was staffed with those mostly under the age of 30. And while I can celebrate the creative genius, innovation, and passion of this age group, I can also celebrate the mature wisdom that comes over time, and I believe that some of the issues being raised require wisdom, not creativity and youthful zeal, to solve.

Interesting, but some of the worst Airbnb experiences I have heard about have been from young guests and hosts. If you take a look at the demographics of Superhosts, I suspect the average age is going to be way more than 30!

That creates an interesting paradigm - policies are being created by those lacking in life experience, while being implemented by those who do! Yet it feels as though the voice of those who do is not being heard, or acknowledged, by those who create.

If there is not an active advisory board consisting of those with real experience in the field, then I propose that there be one. As a host, I feel as though I have no representation, and that my voice is not being heard. Dialog is what is important because we, the hosts providing the foundation upon which Airbnb stands, are a marvelous resource of experience, ideas, wisdom, and passion of our own. But the lack of communication from Airbnb, probably the number one complaint on the community boards, makes me feel frustrated, powerless, unappreciated, and completely unheard.

Airbnb is a wonderful innovation, one that is quickly adding value to my life, value that goes far beyond the financial compensation I have received. But is the foundation of basic sound business practices in place to support the amazing growth that continues to occur?

I realize my comments are slightly off the topic of this thread, which is Instant Book. But they relate in that Instant Book is all about the need to communicate, and communication seems to be the one area where airbnb falls short.


Cathy4 in
Lancaster, United Kingdom
Level 4

Totally agree with all in this thread - instant book seems to work for some owners, in some properties, but it is not always appropriate and is a recipe for failure for some. I do hope airbnb notes the points that are do well articulated above. 

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