Just sharing my experience with instant bookings and why I am hesitant to keep it on. Still unsure.
Upon my listing going live in Dec'19 I got an instant booking without any knowledge about the instant booking feature. The booking 1 night only, a man with a NAKED profile picture which made me very uncomfortable (he had positive reviews). I instantly called up airbnb and reported him. They cancelled the booking penalty free and I updated my listing accordingly so that all requirements for IB as ticked. I was told I get to keep my 3 cancellations.
Since then I have had some great guests with 5 star reviews. So far I have 5.
First penalty free cancellation - Guest visiting under someone else's airbnb account.
My most recent IB guests that have checked out two days ago have left me a review (which I cannot see yet) and I plan to leave them a review at the 11th hour simply because I have a feeling they will give me a bad review for telling them to follow house rules. (They were very messy/dirty and kept going out and leaving lights and heaters on with windows wide open). I plan to leave a review that says " suited to hotel environment" and not recommend them, then respond to their review depending what the outcome is.
I have no idea what I'm going to write.. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Second penalty free cancellation - I explained my reasons to Airbnb and it was accepted.
My reasons are
1 - A very bad review from host. So I did some digging and messaged the host. Apparently he changed his name.
2 - Another alarm bell for me is that on his profile it says he is from US however when I asked him what time his flight arrival is, he said he isn't flying in from anywhere. I think I have a right to know what the purpose of his stay is.
3 - I specifically asked him to confirm if he has read and understood the house rules but he ignored that part
4 - I have asked what time he plans to check in, not answered.
So far that is 2 out of 3 penalty free cancellation strikes. I don't think it's fair that the first one was counted since the guest broke Airbnb policy i.e allowing 3rd party to use someones account. Should I contest this?
With only 1 penalty free cancellation I'm now thinking if I should just switch off IB, probably have less bookings but at least I can be more selective with who comes to my home.
Have any hosts experienced a decline in bookings with IB switched off?
I've had over 700 guests in my 3 years of using airbnb and have only used instant book. We will all have interesting cases that we have to manage. I find the support team at airbnb nothing but professional, prompt, and helpful. It may not always go how I would like it, but in the end all I think it is fair. You are still early in the game and will have many more experiences. Remember you are dealing with a huge population of users that may have different standards than you. Be as detailed as possible in your house manual and know that you will always have outliers. Enjoy the process. In the end all, its' wonderful.
@Naz275 Your problem guests will only see your review after it's published. If their review is negative, it will only be because of events that occurred prior. I fail to see why you wouldn't simply be direct in your review of them. You can do it in a brief, matter of fact manner, i.e. 'Suite required excessive cleaning upon checkout, and during the stay, X was not responsive to repeated requests to be mindful of house rules.' If there were positive aspects of the stay, you can include those as well, to be fair. But let future hosts know exactly what they may expect with these guests. If their review of you is negative, you have the opportunity to respond with a rebuttal, and your response will show up below their review and be visible to future guests. If you do, keep it short, to the point and be mindful of how it appears to future guests.
Re IB, if you're using it, enable every single verification, especially recommendations from other hosts, and positive reviews. Not fail safe, but helps, used in conjunction with other tactics. I've experimented with IB on and off, and I prefer on, so far. I felt 'off' did affect my visibility. That said, I have a whole home listing. If I had otherwise, I don't think I'd use it.
Having read a lot of other threads about how to review bad guests I found that the common advice is to use the phrase “more suited to a hotel environment” and apparently hosts will know what that means but @Colleen253 I’ll take your advice on board thank you.
Also apparently guests can reply to the response I leave of their review of me? That's why I want wait last minute. Not sure what the window they will have to post that reply. Well fingers crossed I don't get a negative one..maybe I’ve been reading too many threads!
@Naz275 Instant book may not be right for you. I love it and it makes hosting so much easier. It definitely takes the right mind set, flexibility, trust, and knowing the Airbnb systems well. I would gather a little more experience if I were you.
In my 3 years of hosting over 450 reservations I have never used a cancelation. I do not share a space with the guest but we are all in the same building. There are some guests (very few) that don't mix well but that is why they're only here for a short amount of time.
@Emilia42 that is impressive! However I think the fact that you don’t share the space makes all the difference. You don’t see the towels all over the floor, nor do you find out if guest leave lights on, or heating on with windows left open. Or the drenched bathroom floor. Or the smell coming from the room due to takeaways left in the bin for 6 nights lol. You just can’t help getting frustrate when you see that. By the way these girls left their door open when they were out so I couldn't help notice those things.
I’ve actually now reduced the number of nights guests can book for now.
I guess if you rent out a whole place and have a cleaner then you don't see any of it. It's a gamble I think. All the other guests have been great.
@Naz275, it is true that I don't share the personal living space with the guests and that could make all the difference. But having instant booking on or off is not going to let you see the future of whether or not a guest leaves their towels on the floor or whether or not they will forget to turn a light off. All these things will happen time and time again. It is all about communication and setting expectations. Hosting requires a certain amount of flexibility and understanding that not everyone lives exactly the same. I do clean all my places and I have seen everything that you mentioned. I've had lovely couples who answered all my questions but left a huge mess and people who never communicated a word but left me a bottle of wine and the space basically untouched. You have to charge accordingly so when you see a towel on the ground or a trash can full of garbage, you can take a deep breathe, let it go, and professionally remind your guest of your expectations.
Yeap that's a valid point. Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps the fact that my listing started off quite cheap it attracted the type of guests I don't want but then again I had 3 others that were really nice and respectful. Ofcourse everyone has different standards so I won't have high expectations but just hope future guests are more considerate.
@Emilia42 Not using Instant Book indeed can let you anticipate whether a guest leaves their towels on the floor or leaves lights on all day while they are out. That is, if they have any reviews from past hosts which mention those things. If one uses IB, the guest books without the host having a chance to read their reviews before accepting.
True, if the guest did have past reviews that mentioned something like this. But unfortunately, all the guests that kept my eyes rolling all had "great guest" reviews. In theory, a previous host would have selected "would not recommend" and then all future hosts who have selected the "must have recommendations" IB parameters would be saved.
@Naz275 I elected to NOT use instant book. Main reason is I want to know who will be going into my property. This site is full of stories about horrible guests. Since this is new to you , turn off Instant Book until you are more comfortable with hosting.
@Naz275, IB gives hosts certain advantages such as better visibility, but it's not for everyone. You may wish to switch it off until you have more experience and worked out exactly what to say on your listing. If you keep it enabled, tick everything. I have hosted well over 300 guests and have IB switched on (with everything ticked). I've never had to cancel anyone, but on the few occasions I've had a concern, I've asked them to cancel. For example, I had a 3rd party booking, and when I realised, I politely explained it was against Airbnb policy (most people are ignorant of this) and asked them to cancel and rebook under their own account. Another example was a family who instant booked then told me they were bringing their children (I have a no children policy). I explained that my house rules and listing stipulate a maximum of 2 guests and no children, so they could either turn up without their children or cancel the booking. So, in many cases you can put the onus back on the guest so you don't have to cancel yourself.
1st cancellation: I don't really understand why this is a cancellation if the guests stayed. Did you cancel their booking after they checked in? If so and it was a 3rd party booking, you should be able to cancel without it being a strike against you. Anyway, there is no need to wait until the 11th hour if the guests have already left a review. The 11th hour thing is only done in the hopes that a potential negative reviewer won't review you at all. So you might as well just review them now as it makes no difference. But please don't write 'better suited to a hotel' because it tells hosts nothing. Also, remember that your review will be going onto the profile of the person who made the booking, not the actual guests, so it makes even less sense to say this. Just be brief, honest and factual: 'X himself didn't stay but made a 3rd party booking for his friends. Y and Z were untidy and frequently left lights and heaters on when going out. Future hosts should ensure that X is booking for himself'.
2nd cancellation: this person shouldn't have been able to IB if you have 'previous good reviews from hosts' ticked. But I understand your wish to cancel the booking on the grounds of a previous bad review. The other points are less grounds for cancelling.
Anyway, I'd recommended switching off IB at least until you get a bit more experience. Happy hosting 🙂
Thank you for your thoughts. I have now switched IB off. By the way my listing is a private room only in a property I live in, I don’t share the bathroom with guests.
Indeed I do need more experience, however my listing is very descriptive with detailed house rules, if anything maybe too much.
@Christine1081 So far the support team have been helpful, agreed but not sure why they counted the cancellation of a 3rd party booking as one strike! @Kath9 you are right I should have asked the guest to cancel from their end! But if they didn’t that would have just blocked up my calendar and I would have had to ring up anyway. By the way the 3rd party IB was a future reservation for Feb’20 (they haven’t stayed). In the end she used her own account and it’s an upcoming reservation.
@Naz275 I also have a private room and have had IB for the over 4 years I have been a host. Even with IB, I still use my welcoming message and their response as a gage of how they will be as a guest. As I gain experience I find I am usually right about the fit of my listing with the guest. Being wrong has not caused much trouble, some annoyance, but no real damage. I did learn to change my minimum to 2 nights and my maximum to one week, however. This helps. A few times I have cancelled, I engage Air BNB in the process and have not suffered any penalties. Like @Emilia42 if I think there is a bad fit, I put it on the guest to cancel. Then I usually will allow a full refund.