One of the most active discussion topics here in the Community Center is on Instant Book. During our conversations, many of you have raised important questions regarding this hosting tool. So we brought your most-asked questions to the Instant Book team and have gathered the answers for you.
I really hope you find the responses helpful. To make it easier to read all the information here, please click on the 'Read more' sections to view the replies! :)
Why should I use Instant Book? What are the real advantages?
Will Instant Book help me get more bookings?
I'm a new host. I wasn't aware of Instant Book and got a booking without accepting and haven't updated my calendar yet. I have cancelled the booking and now have been fined. Why is Instant Book a default?
We’re careful to make it clear to new hosts that they can be booked instantly when they set up their listing, but we know there’s room for improvement. Since new hosts are still getting used to Airbnb, we waive the cancellation fee for one host cancellation every six months (learn more).
The reason we want new hosts to use Instant Book when they join Airbnb is that Instant Book is aligned with Airbnb’s mission of creating a world where people can belong anywhere. Guests also prefer to book instantly, and hosts have the potential to earn more if they let guests book instantly. Finally, we’re slowly moving toward Instant Book being the prefered booking method on Airbnb, so this starts new hosts off in the future of booking on Airbnb.
Can I prevent a bad guest that I've had in the past from booking my listing in the future via Instant Book?
Yes! We recently made a change on Airbnb that automatically blocks guests you’ve negatively reviewed or rated lower than 3 stars from booking with you again.
This is my home and I want to have more control around who stays here. How can I trust that the person arriving at my home is the same person that booked?
In order to book a home on Airbnb, all guests must meet certain requirements, which include verified phone number, email address, and payment information. We also encourage hosts and guests to add verifications through their social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.Hosts can also require that guests submit their government-issued ID to Airbnb for comparison with another form of ID. Usually this process includes the host submitting a selfie photo which Airbnb will check to make sure the selfie matches the photo on their ID. These different layers of verification can help you ensure your guests are who they say they are.
Why is Airbnb giving a search boost to hosts who have Instant Book turned on? I feel like I am at a disadvantage by not turning it on.
Like you, we want to make sure that travelers choose Airbnb when they book a place. This is why we promote listings that travelers can book instantly. Guests are much more likely to use Airbnb when they’re able to book the place they want instantly, and that means more future business for hosts! We want to encourage hosts to turn on Instant Book because they have the potential to earn more and give their guests the best possible booking experience.
How and when can I disable Instant Book?
How often can I cancel an Instant Book penalty free? For what reasons?
Hosts who use Instant Book have unlimited penalty-free cancellations if a guest breaks a house rule, if they intend to break a house rule, or if the host is uncomfortable with a reservation. These types of cancellations are 100% penalty-free, which means no fees, no automated review, no permanently blocked dates, and no impact on Superhost eligibility.
Why are you pushing instant book when it takes away the personal touch that makes Airbnb special?
Our goal with Instant Book isn’t to take the personal touch away, but to help the host focus less time on the logistics of booking (emailing back and forth, managing expectations, confirming house rules, etc.) and more on the part of hosting that is the magic of Airbnb.
Moreover, Instant Book as an experience helps make guests feel more welcome when they use Airbnb. With reservation requests, guests can often get multiple rejections, even if they meet all the requirements to book. And it’s hard for guests to plan their trip when they’re waiting on hosts who are unresponsive. When guests get rejected or find it hard to book a listing, they’ll often choose to avoid Airbnb when booking their next trip. Knowing they can go on Airbnb, find a place they love, and book it right then, makes guests more confident and more likely to use Airbnb every time they travel.
I have been hosting for a while, and some of my guests who have booked via Instant Book have broken my house rules. Why would I trust Instant Book?
While there are always exceptions to any rule, it’s important to know that on average, guests who use Instant Book are rated by hosts just as highly as those who request to book. We consistently find that the quality of guests and types of trips booked using Instant Book are nearly identical to request to book trips.
We provide the ability for you to set clear expectations about your listing in your House Rules and listing description so that both you and your guests share the same understanding about the home.
Why do only Instant Book guests have to verify their ID and other guests do not?
Before they can make any reservation, all Airbnb guests are required to submit and confirm their full name, email address, phone number, and payment information. Since Instant Book hosts don’t have the opportunity to review every request, travelers who wish to use Instant Book are required to verify their ID with Airbnb. This way, Instant Book hosts can have more confidence that their guests are who they say they are. In addition, since Instant Book hosts don’t get to see a traveler’s reviews until they receive a booking, we allow them to limit Instant Book reservations to experienced guests with only positive reviews.
This is a suggestion: Can you create a setting where certain dates in our calendars can be booked by Instant Book and other dates must be booked normally?
This a great idea! We’re exploring ways to do this and will provide updates if we decide to move forward with it.
Does turning OFF Instant Book make your listing disappear from searches?
I have a guest who's supposed to arrive in 2 days. I messaged her yesterday with regards to check-in and became apparent to me, via her reply, that she was not the one who made the booking. As our conversation went on, she then said that it was her 20-year old son/daughter who made the booking but used her name and details to complete her profile. To clarify, she is really going on this trip WITH her son/daughter but left it up to her son/daughter to create her profile, choose where they will stay, and make the booking.
Now, she's asked me if I will allow her for them to entertain guests during their stay and since it is clearly stated in my listings' rules that guests are not allowed, I told her that this is not possible and that this is on my listing, which they should have read before making the booking. Because of this, she wants to cancel the booking. Her dilemma is she doesn't know how to do this because, supposedly, her 20-year old child who did everything flew off to another country for a few days and they won't see each other until they arrive here. And she has reasons that she can't seem to contact her child to make the cancellation.
This whole situation is already making me feel uncomfortable hosting them. Since I have "instant booking" turned on, if I understand correctly Air BNB policy with regards to this, I will not be penalized in any way (i.e. cancellation fees, losing possibility of being a Super host, etc.) If ever, this will also be the first time in my close to 1 year of being a host that I will be cancelling a booking.
My cancellation policy is set to "strict". Will guest be charged anything even if it was myself, the host, who canceled their booking (considering their arrival is in 2 days and my cancellation policy is "strict")?
Thank you for your help!
Call the airbnb Super Host number +1 855-424-7262 (in the USA that is it) and get their input. You want them to cancel it - not you. It is hard to undo a cancellation - let alone get paid your 50% if you cancel. But they can cancel - especially if the guest has said they want to. They will contact the guest and take care of it. I actually had them cancel 3 reservations for me - one was their fault, the other two - really one with a few days in between - was technically mine. I had just started with IB too but someone booked who had no history and was a little sketchy - and then was going to show up with 4 more people. But apparently I didn't have my settings right. They were good about it - and also suggested some changes in my listing which were appropriate. I am still a Super Host with no cancellations on my record. Airbnb really will support you.
I have turned on instant book with all selections ticked: Profile Pic, Governement ID and reviews.
Someone has just booked with a profile pic of a deer and no Govt ID.
What is going on?
I didn't agree to this.
As I understand it, airbnb no longer requires a profile photo as the issue of racial and cultural discrimination is still a problem. At least it was a deer! Last one I got was unidentifiable. Really nice people, though. I believe you can follow up on the government ID question and ask them (the guests) to complete their airbnb profile with this information. And you should call airbnb as well. The only time this was a problem for me was with a new bnb-er who couldn't figure out how to do it. Airbnb facilitated the whole process for her and kept me in the loop. Both guest and host were happy with how they handled it. And things do fall through the cracks. You can also, worst case, tell airbnb to cancel the reservation - so you don't get blamed for it - as no government ID was provided per your requirements.
But if they IB'd they have at least one good review I assume so you should feel reassured. If they had NO reviews and were able to IB then airbnb really needs to get involved! When they first started IB their system allowed guests to IB dates I had blocked out (because I was going on a trip to Scotland!). They got it fixed. Good luck :) Priscilla (Loved Scotland! Spent time in Largs and Glascow!)
I've been using Instant Booking for a while now. It scared me at first and I'm still not 100% sold on the idea, but, overall it's worked for me. One concern is that one of the features of IB is that the guest is supposed to meet ALL the requirements before they can use IB for my home. One of the requirements if that they answer the questions in "Guest Trip Information". For those guests who DO use IB for my property they RARELY answer those questions. That's a real concern to me. One of the main reasons I agreed to IB was because I want to know the answers to help me screen guests. How can this be addressed?
I have instant book turned on, but I am getting a "request to book" from a guest who appears to be qualified for "instant book". It came with a message about early check-in. I answered the message but did not "accept or decline" the booking request. The timer is still counting down as if I am required to accept or decline the booking. I don't understand why this would be? If they are qualified for instant book, why don't they just book the room? If not, why does this request effect my response rate? Does this mean they do not meet Airbnb requirements but by sending a request they are forcing me to hurt my response rate?
It could be you don't accept one-night stays thus they can't IB? More likely they just forgot to - ? In any event, if you accepted I don't think your response rate would be affected . It is odd, though. As a request to book comes from the guest directly (in my experience) not airbnb. Call the airbnb host line - they are very helpful. 855-424-7262
Ah - just reread your post. They didn't IB because they had a question for you to answer. Maybe you said no to early check-in? The clock is ticking on them. They have 24 hours to book I think. You don't have to Accept or Decline an inquiry. But I'm not totally sure about the clock thing.
@Priscilla46 He said they sent the question in an Request, not an Inquiry. If it's a request he does definitely have to Accept or Decline within 24 hours or else convince the requester to withdraw the request. The choices on an Inquiry aren't Accept or Decline, they are Pre-approve or Decline (or just answer).
And the clock isn't ticking on a guest when they send an Inquiry, even if you pre-approve it. They can still go on to book, even if the Inquiry has expired, they just run the risk that the date might get booked by someone else in the meantime.
@Lizzie This is a great post and answered almost all of my questions. I use instant book and am liking it. I wonder what's the impact of requiring a "Recommendation from other hosts" for an instant book? I turned this setting on and have since seen a dramatic reduction in the amounts of views I'm getting.
If you require guests who instant book to have a recommendation from another host, do you get pushed down in the search results?