As discussed in other posts, it seems clear that Instant Book is inevitable based on how Airbnb is driving guests toward it, with hosts expected to follow along.
It’s unfortunate, but there it is. As hosts, I don’t think we can boycott our way out of this mess. So maybe there’s a way to make IB more workable. I propose two refinements.
No. 1: MORE OPTIONS IN THE INSTANT BOOK POP-UP WINDOW.
If you examine the “funnel” through which guests searching for properties now pass, you’ll note that before long, they see a pop-up window about the Instant Book feature. The language used in that pop-up suggests that unless you press the red button that says “Show Me Instant Book Listings,” you won’t get to see those easy-to-book listings. Which of course isn’t true. At the same time, the language also suggests that by pressing that button, you’ll still see non-IB listings. This also isn’t true. Press that red button—the only option given to guests – and you’ll only see IB listings. All other listings disappear. I propose that guests see two options in that window.
"Show Me Only Instant Book Listings"
"Show All Listings That Meet My Criteria"
It's a simple software change. But it will make a big difference to hosts like us who'd rather not have IB imposed on us and are trying to live with it. Though frankly, a far better solution is to show all listings, but to list IB listings first for those who have selected the IB option: “Show Me Instant Book Listings First.” That way, if they don’t spot anything they feel fits their needs in the IB listings, they can scroll on to non-IB properties.
No. 2: GIVE INSTANT BOOK GUESTS A CHANCE TO SEE AND QUERY LISTINGS WITH ADDITIONAL VERIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.
Currently, hosts willing to activate Instant Book have the option to require guests have a "Government-issued ID" and "Recommendation from other hosts." This returns a little bit of the trust and safety elements that are lost when you go with generic IB. But if a host checks one or both of those boxes, then any guest who doesn't meet either of those checked criteria will not even see the listing in searches. In other words, if you check “Recommendations from other hosts,” then any newbie guest who selects the Instant Book filter will never see your listing. They just won't even know it exists.
Let me illustrate the impact of this: The other day we ran some rudimentary analytics on our own guest booking history and discovered that if we had both of those boxes checked since the day we first started hosting, then 75 percent of the guests who've stayed with us would never have seen our listing because they failed to meet one or both of those criteria.
If Instant Book is the way forward, just a couple of tweaks to the current search process could make a world of difference to hosts.
This allows guests to still book the property they were all set to book, but they'll simply do it through the more traditional Airbnb process. And if they're not interested, they can just continue their search. It also allows guests who want to retain some control over who occupies their guest space a chance to secure bookings that would have been wiped out by the shortcomings of the IB system as it exists.
PLEASE consider implementing these refinements. If Airbnb hosts are going to have to live with IB, these small adjustments could make a world of difference.
Response from Airbnb
Being able to book instantly, without waiting for the host to review your request, is a better guest experience and reduces discrimination on our platform. For these reasons we will continue to encourage guests to look for instantly bookable properties. If the listings displayed do not meet the needs of a guest, they can always view additional listings that are not instantly bookable.
In response to the first point: guests can simply dismiss this popup to see all listings. The message is only shown once, to new guests. We tested this with guests and found that they were not confused about the message, and they appreciated having a better understanding of Instant Book. We will continue to explore ways to educate guests about Instant Book, while giving them a path to find listings that are not instantly bookable.
Regarding the visibility of your listing: your listing is visible to all guests, even if you have one of the Instant Book controls enabled. If a guest does not have a recommendation from a past host, or does not want to provide a government ID, they will see your listing, and can send you a reservation request.
We are working hard to make sure hosts have the control they need so that using Instant Book will be a successful experience for different types of hosts. We find hosts that use Instant Book are more successful and get more bookings. Please see our landing page for more information on all of the improvements that we’ve made in the past year, and send us feedback on what additional controls you need in order to give Instant Book a shot.