-----------------Updated June 2017--------------------
An updated version of this Community Guide is now available, click here to view.
I see several hosts wondering why their response rating has decreased when they have responded to all their inquiries and requests. It is important to know the difference between a “reservation inquiry” and a “reservation request” and how not responding to one can affect your response rating.
All About Reservation Inquiries
First of all, Airbnb suggests that guests send out several reservation inquiries when looking for a place to stay using Airbnb. When a guest sends an inquiry, they usually send them out to several listings in the same area. It is kind of like window shopping for an Airbnb listing. The guest can screen hosts by sending a question (inquiry) but they need to complete the dates which they are inquiring about staying and the number of guests. A guest may receive pre-approvals from several hosts enabling them to choose which listing fits their needs best. The important thing to note on "inquiries" is that all you have to do is "respond" to the inquiry within the 24 hours to maintain your response rating. It is of course best to screen the guest who is inquiring and either "pre-approving" them or "declining" them but the most important thing is to at least respond to them within the 24 hour time frame.
How Does a Guest Make an Inquiry?
For the guest to make an inquiry, they will choose your listing and then choose “Contact Host”.
A box will then pop up where the guest can enter the dates they are inquiring about, the number of guests, and their message and questions for the host. They then send the inquiry.
What Does the Host Receive When a Guest Sends an Inquiry?
The host will then receive the guest’s reservation inquiry and have the options to either “Pre-Approve”, “Decline”, “Respond”, or “Dismiss”. All you really need to do is “Respond” to the inquiry within 24 hours of receiving it and your response rating will not be affected. If you “Pre-Approve”, you are essentially allowing the guest to Instant Book the reservation. If they choose to go with your listing after you pre-approved them, they will complete the checkout process and your listing will be booked for the dates you pre-approved for. You also have the option of sending a "Special Offer".
If you choose to just respond, you will converse back and forth through the messaging system.
This is what the guest will receive in the messaging center if the inquiry is "pre-approved".
All About Reservation Requests
It is essential that you understand "reservation requests". A reservation request means that a guest is ready to book your place and they just need your approval. Once you approve their request, your place will become a confirmed booking. It is also important to know that you have 24 hours to take action on the request by either "accepting" or "declining" the reservation request. If you do not either accept or decline within the 24 hours, your response rating will be affected. So, if you have a guest who is taking their time getting back to any of your questions and the 24 hour clock is running down and you are not quite comfortable yet with the guest, it is best to decline the request. You can explain to the guest that you are declining their request because you would like more information and that they can make another request.
How Does a Guest Make a Reservation Request?
For a guest to make a request, from your listing, they would choose the dates, the number of guests and then choose the "Request to Book" tab.
The guest would then be taken to the payment screen.
The guest would then fill in the "About Your Trip" section where the House Rules are stated, they can confirm or add the number of guests, and agree to the House Rules, Cancellation Policy and the Guest Refund Policy.
Finally, the guest can add the names of the additional guests and their emails and also have the option of having the itinerary emailed to anyone.
What Does the Host Receive with a Reservation Request?
The host will receive the reservation request notification. When they click on this, they can either "Approve", "Decline", or "Respond". The host will only have 24 hours to take the action of approving or declining or their reposnse rating will be affected.
If the host chooses to "Accept", the reservation is booked and confirmed. If you wish to decline the reservation, you will be taken to a screen where you choose the reason for declining. You also have the option to explain why you are declining the request. If you wish to provide a message to the guest, you can do this as well.
Thank you so much to @Clare for helping me out with creating this Help Guide. You rock!
"You can explain to the guest that you are declining their request because you would like more information and that they can make another request." We're just up front with the guest, declining them and explaining that we have 24 hours to respond to keep our rating up, and they always have the option of re-requesting the booking.
Guests, especially those who are new to AirBnB, aren't always clear that if they make a request instead of an inquiry, and we approve, that AirBnB will keep the AirBnB fee even if they cancel. Therefore we're reluctant to approve a request when we think the guest is still pondering their options; we don't want to lock them into losing the AirBnB fee.
That is an absolutely brilliant run through the whole booking process. Well done @Dave & Deb and @Clare.
One reason for declining which I often have to use is "Guest enquired about a different date from the one they wanted". I am assured that Declining with that reason won't affect our Acceptance Rates.
I have found that when a guest genuinely gets the booking wrong and ends up with a booking she didn't want, then CX will undo the whole transaction if the host and guest both agree and it is done promptly, say within 48 hours.
@Dave & Deb and @Clare - Excellent guide. Love the conversation, " Templeton doesn't have temples." :D
Dave, you've accidently exposed Clare's postal address, you would want to protect her by editing it soon.
Thanks for letting me know @Jeet. I spoke with Clare and she said leave it as there is not much people can do with a zip code. A person would have an easier time finding her listing on her listing map than the postal code. I am usually really cognizant of making sure I blur out any details but will make sure I look closer next time. Thanks again for the heads-up!
Sorry @Jeet. I am not sure how I shared her complete address. For example, here is a map of the zip 90210 and the second image is of a listing in the zip 90210. If Clare wishes for me to block it out, she will ask me as she has my Twitter, Facebook and email address. If you feel I am breaking Airbnb's posting guidelines, feel free to use that "Report Innapropriate Content" button. If @Lizzie has an issue with it, she can remove the images and I will gladly have her replace them. Welcome back @Jeet! We missed you around here.
This also marks a special occasion here in the CC, because this the 30th Community Help Guide to be created here. A huge well done and great achievement (take a look in the Living Room). :)
Take a look at our Community Month of Celebration.
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Dave and Deb.... This is really good info! I did not realize there was a difference between an inquiry and an request but it makes perfectly good sense. I received an inquiry and had a discussion with the person via airbnb and texting and have decided it would be okay. I asked him to get back to me and I would approve the request ( which now I find out wasn't really a request but an inquiry!) so now I read that I really have to respomd with a preapproval or it will effect my rating within 24 hours and I can not figure out exactly how to do that. Could you help please??
This has just happened to me. I was totally unaware that I was making a booking! I asked a question in the request section. Within a matter of 3hrs my credit card was processed. I've cancelled the booking as I don't want it and now Airbnb are keeping the service fee!! Absolutely shocking. Airbnb should make absolutely 100 percent sure the guest does want to confirm the booking!! I am very angry and unimpressed, and I hope I am refunded the service fee as well. Fran ****
I've just started hosting this week and this is very helpful - thank you!! I was wondering though... I've booked a unit but people that previously inquired are still seeing it as available. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a waiting period before it shows as booked? I'm so confused. Thanks!