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
Helga0 in
Paris, France
Level 10

... @Jennie25, you can only set the condition "verified ID", if you have verified your ID. If you do not get bookings, I would not set that condition. 

After a few bookings, price is a factor, but not the most important one. Speed counts, satisfied guests, who would recommend you or who would recommend airbnb is important too. Doing reviews for all guests quickly helps. Working on your listing, text and pictures, helps too. Many pictures are better than too few. You have host reviews but so far no guest reviews, you could try to get a recommendation from a friend, who knows your place. That's a feature in your airbnb account. You invite someone to write a review. You get it and then you can decide to publish it or not.  

Lila-And-Chris0 in
Athens, GA
Level 10

I'm also a super host with concerns about the way IB seems to be putting hosts in a bind. I also begrudgingly have been experimenting with IB because I feel I have no choice if want to  remain competitive in my market. One of my primary concerns is that guests are not required to interact with my house rules in a way that would encourage them to actually read all of them. (I have some unique limitations that really need to be acknowledged to guarantee it's a good fit.)
Currently, I fear it's too easy for guests to rotely agree that they've read them....I'd like to see a series of check boxes or radio dials next to each rule that I've included for my listing.

That concern/suggestion aside,
now that I'm using IB, I will say I feel a bit duped. I am discouraged to discover that even with IB turned on there are tiers of preference within IB. More visibility is given to IB hosts who remove any semblance of host protection offered by the requirement of a past guest review, inclusion of a govt issued Id, etc. This different handling of listings within IB is not explained to hosts at the outset either. I would encourage, as others have as well, Airbnb to give us a chance to work on an even playing field by letting all IB listings be visible if a guest has that filter turned on. Many guests do not know the filter is on. Or they may be searching while not logged in, in which case they may not be able to see all the IB listings. I could go on... my overall request is that Airbnb consider ways to make this IB feature amenable instead of discriminatory to those hosts with hesitation to remove all IB protections. Consider...those of us who are not on-site or immediately nearby the area of our listing cannot observe guest behavior first-hand--we need to be able to screen for guests who have diligently read our rules and are verified, etc. Hosts are otherwise exposed to unnecessary risk, and nobody--including Airbnb--comes out ahead when there are more incidents, bad stay matches, and resolution center cases.
Thanks Airbnb for continuing to tweak this feature and weigh host FB.

ChuckandCarole0 in
Portland, OR
Level 5

well said, thank you for taking your time to describe the limitations and unfair treatment. this conversation has been going on for so long, it's quite obvious, it means nothing to airbnb. the real issues come up for hosts that do live on site, and need to know who they are inviting into their home....IB should be a totally voluntary feature....when i book as a guest, i constantly have to remind myself that it comes up on my computer as a default.

 

Meighan1 in
Chicago, IL
Level 2

Agree, well said. Airbnb simply does not care, and that has changed my entire hosting perspective. I have IB turned on and do accept guests without reviews. Otherwise I would be empty. That said, I feel like a hotel, and might as well put my listing on VRBO and hotel.com. Half of my guests I no longer meet since they have zero interest in doing so. Now it's just about the money. So it goes.

ChuckandCarole0 in
Portland, OR
Level 5

yes, it is very different than the original feeling of the company....a loss of heart.

 

Cathy65 in
Bloomington, IN
Level 10

Yes, this is all just a shame -- they don't care about hosts, we're just their captive cash cows.  And they have shifted to a culture of conditioning guests to see us as the help in a hotel.  With no understanding that this is my home, not a hotel.

I am shifting my strategy to try and get the guests I would rather have -- visiting scholars and musicians -- by requiring a three-day minimum stay.  That will get rid of the visiting parents who come for the weekend to see little Johnny, Dad gets drunk and Mom focuses on finding something to complain about.

But no question, this IB crap has taken all the joy out of it. 

 

 

 

Greg-and-Robbie0 in
San Francisco, CA
Level 2

If all hosts refuse the IB option then we will win this fight.

Zappa0 in
Key West, FL
Level 10

I am considering testing IB during my slow season and am wondering if the issues initally brought up in this post in 2016 were corrected, and also if this is accurate:

"More visibility is given to IB hosts who remove any semblance of host protection offered by the requirement of a past guest review, inclusion of a govt issued Id, etc. This different handling of listings within IB is not explained to hosts at the outset either."

 

Are there other factors that affect the placement? Like too many host cancellations?

 

My reasoning was to put me up higher on the list, but if all these things are still happening then I think I will pass.

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