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.
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."
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.
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My husband and I have been hosting with Airbnb for 5 years now. When we started, there were only 4 other listings for our city, Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro state in Brasil. Very soon after we listed our acomodations, we got a booking, followed by a wonderful review from our first guests, and it picked up very well from there. Soon we had loads of reviews, loads of bookings, and we added another listing. Our reviews have always been excellent, we have always worked hard to make our guests feel welcome and have the best stay possible, never cancelled any booking and have refused very few booking requests. We also have 100% response rate, within a couple of hours, and have been superhosts since they brought this feature back again a couple of years ago. Airbnb started to grow. New listings started to pop by the dozens daily, and in a couple of years there were almost one thousand listings on Airbnb for Paraty. This didn't affect our bookings. Our place is really special, and as I mentioned above, we get wonderful reviews. So, even though now there were so many options for stays in Paraty, our bookings kept steady. Suddenly, about 4 months ago, things changed drastically. Enquiries became very sparse, and bookings went down drastically. We were puzzled. So started to investigate. Doing a search for all listings in Paraty, without using any filters or dates ( which normally showed ALL listings for the city), I couldn't find our listing. ( note that if you do this search logged into your account, your listing will most probably show on the search, and ranking pretty good. It is entirely different when you do a search loggged out, in a incognito tab or clear all cookies and cache before doing the search. I suggest you try ).Got in touch with Airbnb through a few different channels, and they all assured us that our listing was showing, sending us a link to show our page on the search. But all searches used filters in them, and the parameters selected were very specific which of course improves dramatically the chances of showing our listing on the search. Soon we realised, that, on a general search for Paraty ( again, no filters, no dates, no parameters), Airbnb is now only showing 307 listings. Always. From around one thousand available in Paraty. Which clearly means that many listings are being left out on general searches made by people. Got in touch again with Airbnb, and got the same reply and links showing that my listing does appear on search results, but only when many filters and parameters are selected. I insisted again that a general search should show ALL listings for Paraty, and got the reply that no one searches without dates or type of acomodations in mind. I insist they do, and that is why there is the option to search without dates and filters. I have done general searches and know of other people that do, without any dates or specifics in mind, just to have a look at all possibilities to some trip that you plan to do some day. I suppose this is happening with many other people, because one day one of their newsletters send by email had a link to a topic about searches and how they work. Starts with the same story, that the better your reviews, the more bookings, the less cancellations, the faster response, etc, the higher your listing appears on their search. From the beginning of our experience with Airbnb, I have already found out that this is not quite 100% true, but what shocked me was to hear about the new modifications they have done to how search works.
So basically, Airbnb is pre selecting listings to show potential guests whenever they do a general search on Airbnb. Based on the above listed factors, on type of properties you booked or even searched before. Assuming that people follow a pattern and are not willing to change and try something different. They are assuming what people want to see, and, in the case of my city, leaving around 2/3 of the listings out.
I wish Airbnb would hear and understand how this is affecting hosts drastically. I wish they would give more credit to hosts that been with them since the beginning, working hard and helping build their good reputation and grow. The other day, I came across a paid advert from Airbnb on Facebook, featuring a house listed with them in Paraty. New host. Not many reviews, some not that good. But the house had been featured on an architecture Brazilian magazine. This alone was for them enough reason to feature it. .On the comments, a couple of people saying that they had tried to book that house, and the communication with the host was very bad and he had been rude. On the post, there was a link saying : click here to see all listings for Paraty. I clicked and it showed only 307. No surprise there!!! On that, I decided to write a comment pointing out that the link is not true, that it doesn't show ALL listings for Paraty, briefly pointing out my concerns about this and mentioned that I wished they would feature instead listings from hosts that had been with them for a long while, working hard from the beginning, helping build the reputation and that fitted in to the whole idea of Airbnb, basically great hosting with love and effort and attention to make people have the best stay possible. My comment was deleted.
I really appreciate if you read this far. Maybe the same has been happening to you. Maybe not. Maybe it has but you haven't been fully aware of it...But I ask you to please like or comment on this post, because it is the only way it will get selected to reach Airbnb. This is how this new host voice forum works. Posts that don't get attention, are automatically archived, the ones that do, are supposedly moved up the " importance chain" and hopefully gets the attention it deserves. The other channels to get in touch with Airbnb are becoming more and more difficult and automated, doesn't really feel like real soul is replying from the other side. I feel very nostalgic about our beginning with Airbnb, and the easiness to get in touch, and get a proper and quick and personal response to enquiries, problems, complaints, suggestions. Feel that as Airbnb grows, this is all getting lost. That it is more about the money, less about the people. That the initial moto of hosting with soul is totally getting lost.
Response from Airbnb
Creating a platform that helps match hosts and travelers is unique and challenging. And any given search can produce different results based on numerous factors .
Many markets have thousands of listings, which means only a tiny fraction of those end up on the first page of a search with no date parameters set. While searching without specified dates is a great way to see what kinds of listings a location has, that’s not how travellers generally find places they decide to book. Almost all guests book using searches with dates.
Our data shows that in general, listings with more reviews, and higher ratings, show up in searches to more travelers, especially when their dates are specified. So, while we never promote listings (even based on tenure), you can do a lot to make sure your listing stands out in search.
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I was always lead to believe that a review or review point, was a gague or meter to let me know how I, as host am doing.(??) Whereas all the other review points such as "Accuracy, Value, Cleanliness, etc" are points of review that tell me how I'm doing, (on-point, or possible improvements) I have never understood why the guest is given the opportunity to review my "Location." "Location" to what?
"Location" is subjective to the agenda of the guests visit. If, for example, they are visiting thier sister down the street, then, my home is a great "Location." If she is visiting her sister in hospital 30 miles away, maybe not so much.
As I cannot in anyway (especially with "instant book") immediatly know the reasons or agenda of the guest,without a lot of prying, and I certainly cannot move my house to better suit anyone who decides to rent, I am completely confused why this would even be a point of review to a guest?
It seems to me that we as hosts should be utilizing "Accuracy" as a way to inform guests as to the proximity of key landmarks and goings-on, in our respective areas. If I am, indeed "Accurate" in my descriptions, and not exagerating the truth about the other points of review, such "Cleanliness, Value, Communication, etc) rather than leaving to chance, that a guest decided: 1. Not to do thier homework when searching for a stay, and knocks me down a star or two becaise of their negligence in researching, 2. Because they were too budget conscinece to pay more to stay closer to what they wanted to do or see. 3. Or because what they wanted to do or see was already booked in a location that is closer on thier respective dates.
I have personally put in my opening short description, as well as (again) in the long description, the exact distance to the 2 main attractions that the vast majority of my guests want to see, yet have received less than 5 stars 10 times because they didnt want to pay more to stay a few miles closer.
Response from Airbnb
As a helpful criteria for many guests, we are not intending to remove this at this time; however, we always appreciate this feedback as we regularly refine our platform to best meet hosts and guests needs. Location is intended to help future guests get a sense of the area and tends to reflect proximity to nearby destinations. It was created to help establish potential guests’ expectations, setting both you and your guests up for fewer surprises. While this isn’t something we are planning on changing, we are investigating including transit score and walkability score on the listing page in order to clarify location as a criteria. Since it’s not something you can change or control, it doesn’t impact the overall Star Rating for the listing or Superhost status.
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AirBnB started as a sharing service between individuals. Guests are looking for a new and personal experience in someones home. Host wants the best experience for people in their homes.
Now I see more and more commercial companies using AirBnB to rent homes. Some of these companies are renting up to 100 different homes. This is no sharing anymore,what's the difference with an ordinary hotel. These homes are only used for renting the whole year and making as much profit as possible. This made cities like Berlin, Barcelona and Paris to change the rules and make it almost impossible to use AirBnB as an individual.
So I would like to ask AirBnB to go back where it all started. Share your own home, or a room in your own home. And make it impossible for commercial companies with large amounts of apartments to profit from AirBnB. They are damaging the good intentions of a lot of hosts.
Reponse from Airbnb
We really appreciate the fact that the Airbnb host community cares about the mission and future of Airbnb. Last year, hosts asked the founders a similar question during Q&A at Open. You can watch the full video in the Community Center.
Our mission is to create a world where everyone belongs. For that to happen, we will always work with our community of hosts to create a more inclusive product that helps people find a place to feel connected, respected, and a part of a community again.
This is the main reason why our product is constantly expanding. At the beginning, Airbnb was only a platform for air mattresses. And it slowly transitioned to rooms and later to entire homes. Now, we’re growing from homes to global experiences that change the way people travel.
That doesn’t mean that we care any less about our individual hosts. On the contrary, we are constantly thinking about new ways to empower our hosts. Last year, we launched co-hosting and experience hosting to provide product solutions that expand our hosts’ economic opportunities beyond their private homes.
Empowering our hosts allows our community to support travelers all over the world despite the wide variety of hosting patterns and different regulations that govern home sharing in regions throughout the world. We remain committed to working with housing-constrained cities to ensure our platform is not impacting housing supply.
Additionally, we’ll continue to work closely with our hosts in such efforts like Host Voice to ensure that they feel that they have a space to establish an open dialogue and that they see us as partners in defining the future of home sharing.
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I would like to see details of all guests listed on the booking (with agest of those under 18).
Response from Airbnb
Today when a guest books we require guests to tell you how many guests are coming, and we recently improved this by requiring guests to tell you how many children and infants are coming as well (you can always state that your listing is not suitable for children or infants). We also require guests to tell you the purpose of their trip at time of booking. We currently encourage guests to submit the names of each guest that is coming, but do not currently require it.
Follow up from Airbnb - May 26th, 2017
At this time we’re not going to make it a requirement that guests provide identity details for every person in their party, including ages of those under 18 years old. However, as a host you can indicate in your House Rules that guests booking your home must provide certain details, including the ages of those under 18 years old.
When guests book your home, they must explicitly agree to your House Rules. This is true whether your listing is Instantly Bookable or not. As a host you may decline a reservation request, or cancel a reservation, if you feel that the guest is not be able to follow your house rules.
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Guests who do not bother to review should have their review by their host cancelled on `cutt-off` day 14. It is unfair that hard working hosts are deprived of reviews and a guest who has been too lazy to submit their review should end up with a nice `inbox` full of reviews. PLEASE Aibnb change this! I have noticed that contact phone numbers of guests are now immediately removed upon check-out so it is impossible to send a guest a reminder about sumbitting their review when day 14 looms!
Response from Airbnb
Reviews are central to Airbnb. We definitely agree that more reviews are better. Last year we explored the potential of incentivizing guests to respond to reviews. In this test we provided travel coupons as the reward. We found, surprisingly, that this did not increase the review rate. The biggest impact we have found so far on increasing guest review rate is to shorten the review process and notify or remind guests to leave reviews through additional channels. For example, we found that hosts receive more reviews if they send their guest a message requesting one. We do not have plans to make major adjustments to the review process at the moment.
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Mobile App improvements for hosts. We are looking to make some improvements in this area and would love to hear your ideas! Make sure to add a "mobile" tag. Write you idea, suggestion, or feedback and categorize it with the relevant tag. If you have multiple ideas, submit them separately.