WHY HAS AIRBNB REMOVED OUR ABILITY TO INCLUDE CRITERIA FOR INSTANT BOOK WITHOUT TELLING US?

Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

WHY HAS AIRBNB REMOVED OUR ABILITY TO INCLUDE CRITERIA FOR INSTANT BOOK WITHOUT TELLING US?

Checking my listing today, I found as part of the winter release, Airbnb has decided to remove the critieria /questions guests need to answer for those using Instant Book

 

Previously I had vetting questions guests needed to answer to stay at my listing (I am a home share host so this is important). Importantly if guests didn't answer these questions I had grounds for being able to cancel penalty free under IB.

 

Now this option has been taken away from hosts.

 

How can hosts have confidence in the IB process when Airbnb has taken away our ability to vet guests who instant book.

 

@Stephanie @Catherine Powell @Nick 

14 Replies 14
Louise1097
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

The new system for IB relies *entirely* on totally honest host reviews, which are public. We know that many hosts do not review honestly, because such reviews are public. If we are honest, we could be sued. Aircover does not cover us for defamation or libel in reviews (Air told me yesterday). Hosts are mealy-mouthed or avoid, out of fear of consequences often. Often after previous bad experiences posting honest reviews.

Louise1097
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

Removal of 'host recommendation' is a disaster. We relied on this to avoid drug dealers, pimps and other undesirables.

Yes, we have had county lines drug sellers only 50 yards from our home, in another Airbnb. And several others I know of. Having no reviews or no negative reviews (whatever that means) is not the same as 'host recommendation' radio button.

eg some hosts do not review. Some hosts post nothing if negative. Some hosts are worried about posting negative reviews. Some hosts get barrages of threatening messages from guests where they have posted negative reviews about such activities. Some hosts withdraw negative reviews after threats from guests. Some hosts have had their negative reviews removed by Air itself, when the host gets a barrage of threatening messages from the guest (when they should be suspending guest or removing guest profile).

An absence of negative reviews (reviews are public) or 'incidents' (what are those?) is in no way equivalent to a positive 'host recommendation' (private). My idea of negative may not correspond to Air's idea of negative.

We have not been told what 'negative' means, what 'incident' means, what 'unfavourable' means, or what 'recently' means.

Why destroy a system that works?

We have turned off instant book until we get answers.

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Helen3,

 

This may not be helpful for you, but this is my workaround to make guests communicate before accepting a booking with IB enabled.  Note, this works best for listings that typically have stays that are at least three nights.

 

  1. Set the minimum stay to 1 night.
  2. Set the maximum stay to 2 nights with the option to allow reservation requests for longer stays.
  3. Have the nightly rate pretty high (>$100 USD) so guests will not book a single or two night stay, or if booked it's financially beneficial to us.
  4. Offer a generous discount (>50%) for stays that are 3 nights or longer which puts the rate competitive with comparable listings.

The property will still appear in the search results with other properties with IB enabled.  Guests seeking to stay for 3 nights or longer will be invited to submit a booking request.  Hosts will be able to communicate with and vet potential guests before making an accept/decline decision.

 

I made similar changes for my US long-term stay listings, but not yet for the St. Lucia guesthouse, because most guests must present a valid ID to enter the country and we are required to confirm a guest's identity for check-in.  Also, guests don't want to risk having their reservation canceled in a foreign country for breaking house rules or ToS.

Hilary79
Level 8
Spokane, WA

I agree with @Helen3

 

Airbnb - please bring back the prebooking questions!!

 

@Stephanie  @Nick 

Inna22
Level 10
Chicago, IL

Helen, I know it is not the same, but you can include a blurb that "guest must answer the questions received immediately post booking. Please watch for that message once you book". Then do an automated "Thank you for booking" that includes those. you will still be able to have the reservation cancelled if they do not respond. How often did guest not respond and you ended up cancelling them before?

Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

Yes I know I can do this @Inna22 - but as I mentioned in my original post this offers no protection. And I can't cancel the guest if they refuse to answer my vetting questions. 

 

In answer to your questions I had three guests who refused to answer my vetting questions who Airbnb cancelled penalty free under IB. 

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Helen3  indeed. and why wasn't this "upgrade" included in the Winter Release, instead of quietly implemented? They must have known it would upset hosts, why didn't they get ahead of it? instead the poor mods here have to run interference for these odd decisions. I do not envy their job at all!

John5097
Level 10
Charleston, SC

@Gillian166 @Helen3 
 
Some of you may recall this already happened to some of us a year a half ago. If its anything like my experience, this will be more frustrating for host and guest.  

I'll be fine using Request to Book. 

My guest are great and hosting has been great. Maybe  I'm not compatible with big tech mentality.  So will just be reading up from time to time to try and prevent from being blindsided with changes to policies with zero announcements, and let karma take it course. If communication between host and guest becomes even more restricted I'll need to go back to long term rentals like so many other host are opting.

  









Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

Unfortunately I live in a highly saturated market so I can't turn off IB as then my views and bookings drop dramatically @John5097 

John5097
Level 10
Charleston, SC

@Helen3 

Yes I was just speaking for myself. 

"I'll be fine using Request to Book."

I'm in highly statured area as well, and a legal one so have to pay all the extra property taxes, licensing, inspection  fees,  follow strict zoning codes, etc, but still manage to be the first listing displayed and on the first page because of the location and I did most of the work. If I listed my house for sale, it would sell in less than a week and someone would bulldoze the house and build a Mc mansion on the lot. 🤣

I much preferred IB with the option to include a message. I've never gotten below a 5* in communication. 

But this is about increasing corporate profits over host safety. 

For me the most rewarding part of hosting is proving a safe place for everyone, but the executives at Airbnb don't share those values.   

John5097
Level 10
Charleston, SC

@Helen3 

Our area is totally overstated with illegal STR who have slashed rates for this winter. I'll miss some bookings  as I can't compete with entire house, and not going to drop my rates so low it attracts illegal activities. 

But I'm very good at managing my rates, keeping it booked, and always in the top searches. It helps having a great location and all the work I put into mine, but  right now its slower than its been in past 3 years. 

If listing can't book using request to book, they won't book using IB, especially if host make assumptions about other listings and areas. There are other factors than IB. I've gotten several bookings with request to book since I turned off IB a few days ago. 

Been scrambling to update my listing the past few days. 

With the over saturation ABB is also making it harder to get good reviews to further thin out the competition. 

I"m hoping that I'll be ok with less bookings as this isn't only income. 




Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

Yes I appreciate that - I've been hosting for six years as a SH and work in marketing and comms so have a good idea on how to optimise my bookings and ensure my guests have a great stay.

 

I know that using IB or not has a huge impact on my bookings. So your statement 'If listing can't book using request to book, they won't book using IB' doesn't hold true for me or many host I know.

John5097
Level 10
Charleston, SC

@Helen3 

Thanks for the update. For past 3 years I've been booked solid. Before the 2022 Summer Release I was booked solid several months out and 80% 6 months out. Guest would book weekends as soon as they became available six months out. Then Summer Release and it slowed to a crawl. Views dropped down lower than I"ve ever seen in 3 years. It recovered some but not remotley like it was. And they were booked for non peak season. 

I'm getting bookings with IB off. Also got my first booking on VRBO this morning, also using Request to Book. Which I much prefer as I only need a brief message and don't interrogate guest. lol 

Also noticed a glitch with Airbnb. When I turned off IB I wasn't showing up at all in searches 2 days prior to open nights, so guest couldn't see it or book. I had set IB to be off 2 days prior to availability to IB. So changed that and it opened back up. 

This is the first time since last January that I"ve had a vacancy. I book all year every day even holidays. Last January was our last serous covid wave so had a few nights that canceled and didn't rebook. This year is the worst. 

I still think its the Summer Release as thats when it had dramatic decline in bookings and never recovered like it had been. Maybe guest just keep searching or get frustrated with the "Im flexiable" Any Week, Any Weekend. Weekdays aren't booking like they used to. So Airbnb decided to restrict communication instead to increase bookings. 

My experience with no first message wasn't good. VRBO also seems a little clunky because I"m not used to it and don't see guest reviews but hopefully will book nights Airbnb don't want to book. I created that account after my first vacancy with Airbnb. Maybe it was the bugs with Airbnb also. 

Good luck! Hope it all works out for us. 

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Helen3  totally understand. we all have to do what's right for our location and situation. I might turn it back on if i get annoyed by answering requests to book 😆 cos it's not like i can actually decline bookings easily anyway....  i had it turned on for our "easy" one, just couples, no kids, no pets, nothing extra to consider. We are in peak season soon so it's not a concern, i'll revisit this in Feb. 

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