If IB is inevitable, consider 2 vital refinements

Status changed to: Not In Plan

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. 2016-12-09.pngThe 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.

  1. Allow guests who have selected the Instant Book filter (but who don't meet one or both of those additional requirements) to still see those listings that require it. When they select the "Book" button, you can deliver a pop-up window that says, "To book this property instantly, this host requires additional information about guests. But you can still Request to Book now and the host will have 24 hours to reply to your booking request."
  2. Then offer two buttons: "Yes, I'll Send A Booking Request Now" and "No Thanks, I'll Keep Looking"

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.

Comments
CarlandDiane0 in
San Marcos, TX
Level 10

Thanks @Bets0. I just submitted these suggestions to that link. Looks like it went through. No harm in trying every channel possible, right?

Happy Friday!

Carl and Diane

Martha76 in
United States
Level 1

A hearty thumbs up for this post. First for exposing the unexplained nuances of IB and second for giving great suggestions about how to improve it for both guest and host alike. 

CarlandDiane0 in
San Marcos, TX
Level 10

I just submitted these suggestions to Brian Chesky (founder and CEO), Chip Conley (head of hospitality and strategy), and Joe Hadeh (VP of product). Chip replied immediately and flagged Joe to consider the suggestions.

 

Maybe the new year will bring us all some good luck. Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks for all your input!

Kristen11 in
Truckee, CA
Level 3

I appreciate you putting so much thought into this!  These are great ideas!  Let's HOPE Airbnb is LISTENING!!!

Dan2 in
Encinitas, CA
Level 5

Maybe I'm not as in touch with AirBnb's direction as you all are. It's distressing to hear that Instant Book is the future. I've simply declined allowing it and have managed to keep as booked as I'd like to be.

 

My listings are in my home and it's important to me to have conversations with guests and for each of us to read reviews before anything is booked.

 

I read in the above comments that a "workaround" might be to accept instant bookings, and then cancel if the guest has broken the house rules. That seems like a terrible approach that's hard on the guest and on the host. There's got to be a better way.

ChuckandCarole0 in
Portland, OR
Level 5

And no matter what, at this point, with instant book filters many times on automatic default, our listings are not even being seen.

 

Raffaele-and-Astrid0 in
Coogee, Australia
Level 10

@CarlandDiane0

 

I agree with your main post!

 

we are in high season here, Jan & Feb are the most lucrative months, last year full booked till March, and now nothing, beacuse guest don't see us in the search page, normally we are in first page all the time, but with IB automatic ON in the search page, we don't get any booking anymore.

 

The problem is that the host with IB normally are new host, so NO "review" and on top of that are too expensive, so actually my area has most of the listing avaible in high season, unbelievable!  so in the end NO ONE working.

 

we cut our price almost than half and still nothing, all this new way it's just ridiculous.

We are scared to turn on IB, because all problem that we read about guest coming from IB booking, so, no thank you! :)

 

In this last 2 years we actually avoid lot of guests that in the end they declined us because we point out some features that we felt that the guest might didn't liked, cause most of guest just don't read the listing. as: shared bathroom or bunkbed.

 

we decline others that were ready to book with kids, and our place is for no kids at all.

in colusion IB is a really bad move, IF you don't have a kind of  Hotel room and house. 

 

I hope that Airbnb gonna do something really soon, before the global revenue get affected like my area now.

 

Cheers Raf 

 

Nancy0 in
San Francisco, CA
Level 2

@CarlandDiane0, et al. Wowie, just discovered this thread today. I'm a SF private room host of 5 years who'd only turned on IB last Nov, after discovering that Airbnb had defaulted to an IB filter being on, w/o notice to those who searched. After communicating with another long time IB skeptic who'd turned it on w/o issues, I decided to give it a try. Only thanks to you did I realize that by turning on IB I was turning away the many wonderful first timers I have hosted for years. I called Airbnb CX to clarify, since the language on our host site states clearly that we set criteria who can IB and "anyone else must submit a reservation request". The CX rep explained that if guests do not meet the criteria set up (in my case the conservative ones of Verified ID and past reviews), the guest is not allowed to book with me at all. No option to send a standard booking request that I may accept or decline. So, the language on our host site is totally misleading and WRONG. I've turned off IB and like others who have done so, I received many scary warnings about the implications and requireed me to ck off the ways I recognized this could impact my standing. Whew. My fellow longtimer has connections at Airbnb HQ who may at least offer clarification. Thanks to all the great feedback on this thread. I shall definitely add my voice to the feedback link, taking the advice to draft my comments outside so they can be saved in case of error. Lordy.

CarlandDiane0 in
San Marcos, TX
Level 10

@Nancy0, thanks for the comments.

I did exchange emails with Airbnb Founder and CEO Brian Chesky over the Christmas holidays. He said he agreed with my second recommendation and said Airbnb will implement in in some fashion. So that's something.

We turned on IB a few weeks ago and then turned off those additional criteria. So far we've received several IB bookings (and a couple traditional booking requests) and everybody's been great. Even with those who booked via IB, we would have approved them anyway.

HOWEVER, we're not renting a room in our house, which would be a very different proposition altogether. To my mind, Airbnb should not impose IB on people who share their same space with guests. It simply a matter of safey and personal protection for hosts.

The more verbal folks are about the shortcomings or oversights in the IB system, the better chance we have of getting something we can all live with.

Carl

ChuckandCarole0 in
Portland, OR
Level 5

Wow! this is big news...first of all, the IB filter is automatically on so much of time....a user has to be very savvy to realize they are not getting to view all the listings in their search area, and must choose to turn it off...i don't think that many users can decipher that. Then as a host, if i use instant book and want to protect myself by checking the "must have reviews from other hosts", criteria,  it eliminates first time users from even getting to MAKE A REQUEST!....i did not know that until i read Nancy's thorough break down. What a disappointing development to know that i am being limited as a guest, and as a host by airbnb's new filter. 

 

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