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
in
Genoa, Italy
Level 10

@Nancy0 I have tested deeply during the last month and talked to several airbnb representative.  

 

Is someone do not have the document verified and you require in IB, it will happen as you said.  You will receive a regular reservation from that guest.

 

But if you have the "reviewed by other guest" option checked under IB,  1) if he does not select "show instant booking linsting" he will see your listing and will send you a regular reservation 2) if he does select the "show instant booking listing" he will not see your listing.

 

unfortunately

in
San Francisco, CA
Level 2

@Brunello0, oh my. I follow your explanation, thank you. Appreciate all the effort to test. I am interested how you tested this. I believe you, just curious as to your methodology. I guess it is academic for me since I stay booked about 9 months in advance. But it still stinks.

in
Bloomington, IN
Level 10

Piecing together people's various reports, it's clear to me that Airbnb is applying the default filter differently in different markets. And they turn it on and off according to some whippersnapper's algorithm. In saturated markets -- which they have intentionally created so they can afford to lose a bunch of hosts -- it's on a lot, and your listing goes down the rabbit hole if you try to keep any control over who will be sharing your house. I despise this and it willl drive me out of hosting at some point. But they don't care, even if they lose a bunch of superhosts.

in
Genoa, Italy
Level 10

@Nancy0, there are different way to test.  One way is to enter airbnb from 2 different browsers  1) with clean cash and historic, do not log in.  2) regular browser you logged in.  In the browser number 1 do the search via map in the area where your apartment is located.  When asked with the pop up box to select "show instant booking listing" you hit the red button and chose to see just instant book listing.  Since you are not logged in, you will be seen as new guest (with no review no nothing).  If you have instant book with the "people with review" box checked.  You will see that your listing will not appear to you.  If you do the same test, but on the browser 2 you take out the "people review check box" in your instant booking preferences, you will see that your listing will appear again on browser 1.  Your listing will be shown also if you do not select the "show instant book listing" on the pop up when you do the search.  

in
San Francisco, CA
Level 2

@Brunello0, thank you for the detailed explanation. I am impressed with your strategic thinking. Sad about the results of course. This aspect of the IB option I deplore.

in
Portland, OR
Level 5

I think Cathy nailed it!

in
Chicago, IL
Level 2

I have to agree. Sad but true if you are in one of those markets (as we are). But I think it will open the door to competition for more specialized home sharing platforms. I hope so. 

in
Seattle, WA
Level 2

We only have the "positive reviews" setting, not the Gov't ID setting. THERE IS NO REASON TO HIDE LISTINGS IF SOMEONE IS SIMPLY JUST NOT LOGGED IN!!! That is absolutely ridiculous. Also deceiving - as I was testing it myself while building the listing, the lightning bolt was always there. Now that the listing is live, I can't even find it if I open a fresh browser and am not logged in. We listed right before 4th of July knowing that we'd likely get a booking - also, Seattle is practically sold the next two weeks. I was trying to figure out why in the world our traffic isn't higher and surely this is the reason.

in
Las Vegas, NV
Level 10

I have tried all sorts of things and I get bookings no matter what I do and I"m in a place that is TOtaLLY saturated.  I think it is like someone else said...just the algorythm and there sometimes is no rhyme to it.  And price point is a huge factor...if you are not IB but lower than your comp, you'll get booked.  Sometimes just messing around with the price is all you can do to get a booking.  However, if you lower your price and get bookings, sometimes that's not really the desired effect if you want good reviews every single time.  So it's just simply a game for hosts.

in
Paris, France
Level 10

@Jennie25, you see your listing in a search, if you are logged in, because the coolies remember your previous activities. You get all listings in a search of the area, that you watched closely. I get a lot of forum members listings every time I start on the website, because I check them, when I talk with other hosts. 

 

You get different things, when you go in on different browsers, not logged in or in stealth mode. Modern websites do that: they take your browser information (which browser, language, on which computer or phone, past surfing history etc) and try to find a "match" for you. The information you give them without noticing it, lets websites know, which price range would be acceptable and other guesses. 

 

 

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