Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Corning, NY
Level 10
421 Views

I'm really new at this. Just listed a few days ago, and have been getting bookings and inquiries. (Yay!)  Today, I had 2 different inquiries, one for a 6 day stay, and one for a week. I answered their questions promptly, and pre-approved them to book.  But they did not book promptly, and meanwhile someone else requested 2 of the days during the longer stays. I did not see any option to contact the first party again, so I went ahead and booked the 2-day stay. 

 

Is there a way to handle this better, so that I am not missing out on these potential longer stays (the first party contacted me again tonight, about an hour after it was booked to someone else, and would have booked the 6 nights)?   If I had waited longer to accept the request, would I have been able to give it to the first party?   Or does it always have to be actually booked, even if it means I am losing out on the longer stays?

 

Thanks for helping me figure this part out.

 

Linda

 

 

17 Replies

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 10

@Linda3345 

 

First you have to understand the difference between an “INQUIRY” and a “REQUEST.”

 

An inquiry is merely a request for information. You should answer promptly and if they don’t get back to you, which most don’t, forget it.

 

They probably sent out several inquiries and they’re too lazy and inconsiderate to acknowledge your response.

 

If it’s a legitimate request to book you can and usually should respond with some questions of your own. You have 24 hours to either accept or decline their request and if they are uncommunicative that’s a good reason to decline.

 

If you approve their request your calendar will be blocked for those dates unless they fail to complete the booking within 48 hours, in which case it opens up again. (Maybe they only have 24 hours. I can’t remember offhand.)

 

You can delay approval while you contact someone who inquired earlier but if they don’t respond promptly it’s best to take the offer that’s actually on the table.

 

 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Corning, NY
Level 10

Thank you, Brian. Very helpful to me. I was too focused on "response rate", thinking that if I responded within minutes, that was best. But now I see I can take a little more time to think things through. 

 

To clarify: I could delay approval of a request to book, in order to re-contact a person who inquired with follow-up questions, encourage them to book quickly, and that way, accept the longer stay.  I will not be penalized for declining a request to book?

 

Thanks.

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Linda3345   Once a person sends a request to book, your calendar is blocked for that person. The only way to clear your calendar is to decline the request to book, and, yes, you are penalized for declining booking requests.  You have 24 hours to accept or decline a request to book.   

 

You could, of course, decline the request to book, which would free up your calendar, and then contact the person who inquired, but you have no guarantee the inquiry would turn into a booking, and you could end up with nothing.

 

You could also try asking the guest to withdraw the request to book, if you have a good reason for it - for example, if you find out they are not a good fit for the space, or they request an amenity you don't have.

 

I think it's best to keep a firm booking - first come, first served - and not wait for people to make up their minds what they want to do, or play around for longer bookings. 

 

If you don't want to accept 2-day stays in the future, you can change your settings to a longer minimum stay.  You never want to cancel a booking. 

 

Also, since you are new, it doesn't hurt to take a few shorter stays until you get more comfortable with hosting, and build your reviews. 

 

 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Corning, NY
Level 10

Michelle, this is so helpful. I had one situation like that last night. 

 

And now I woke up to another situation:  one party requested to book, and literally in the same few minutes, the longer-stay party also tried to book, but some of the dates were blocked. 

 

And how does one keep a "business" frame of mind, when I have already communicated with both parties, and feel sorry for whomever I have to turn down?

 

 

 

 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Linda3345  You can communicate in a friendly way with everyone, but it's always best to make it clear that bookings are on a first-come-first-served basis, so if they really like the space, you have communicated with them and decided they are a good fit, they should go ahead and book.

 

I never promise to hold my space open for folks.  The majority of inquiries don't turn into actual bookings.

 

If they are asking basic questions about the space, take a look at your listing detail to make sure you have everything covered in there, and good photos.

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Corning, NY
Level 10

Michelle, thank you.  I resolved the current situation by accepting the booking that actually booked first, and then explained the situation to the person who missed out. I pointed out the partial dates that are still available and reminded them to book immediately if they wanted the partial dates.  I see that I need to communicate in a friendly way, but not be committed until they have actually booked. 

 

I should say "If you book our home, we look forward to hosting you", instead of just "we look forward to hosting you". 

 

And you are right: I need a few more photos with captions to fully show our place, and cut down on questions. 

 

Thank you for helping a newbie!

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Level 10

@Michelle53 

The major annoyance of the platform is this "blocking" thing. It has become a freak feature, continously making it extremely difficult for hosts, especially when having multiple istings, to manage their bookings by the requests, inquiries and special offers. if you are very familiar with the platform, their are some tricks to make life easier, but it is a continuous juggling with the balls. I would be happy Airbnb could provide an option to hosts to select  "only want to receive inquires". And people with new profiles, no reviews and no ID verified so not be able to make a booking request anyway !

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Emiel1  I only have one listing, so I don't find it that hard to manage. I imagine multiple listings could get complicated.  Actually, I get very few inquiries these days, and generally, they are only to confirm small details,  and then folks book right away after I respond.   

 

Most topics are covered in my listing information. I used to get a lot of things like "is there luggage drop off?", "can I check in early/check out late?", "how far are you from XYZ place of interest?", "how do I get from A to Z via public transit?".   And my favorite one - "is the space really private ?"  Not so much any more.  

 

Honestly, looking at the booking process from Airbnb's and the guest's point of view, it's all about taking the booking, not keeping guests on hold  juggling inquiries and offers back and forth to pick the best one. 

 

That could pretty quickly turn into a train wreck. 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Linda3345  "And how does one keep a "business" frame of mind, when I have already communicated with both parties, and feel sorry for whomever I have to turn down?"

 

You don't need to feel bad. When you pre-approve an inquiry it is up to that guest to carry on to book, if they really want to. They can't expect to dither around and have a host turn down bookings where another guest is committed and ready to pay immediately.

 

It doesn't mean you have to project a hard-nosed attitude. I once had a guest send an inquiry, and we exchanged a couple messages, really hit it off, she had great past reviews, and I really wanted her as a guest. After answering her question, she said she needed to book a flight and would get back to me asap. When I didn't hear back from her for about 5 days, and my tourist season and bookings were starting to roll in, I messaged her, saying no pressure, but was wondering if she was still planning on making the trip, as if I got a request for her dates, I would have to accept it.

 

She messaged back right away, explained that she has a fear of flying, and always procrastinates booking a flight, but thanked me for putting a little fire under her butt- she definitely wanted to come and  would book her flight right away. She did, and sent a request within half an hour that I accepted.

 

But I wouldn't waste time doing this for most inquiries. It's basically first to put their money down gets the booking.

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Eureka, CA
Level 2

@Linda3345 I am new to hosting and got a booking request.  Very vague info, no profile pic, does not say where they are from and as of yet has not answered any of my questions.  I have not accepted nor declined them yet.  If I decline them before the 24hr window with I get penalized?  

 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 10

@Heather1311 


If they won’t answer your questions you can decline and you probably should.

 

If you decline frequently Airbnb’s computer might move your listing to a lower position but that’s not fatal.

 

It’s better than accepting a really bad guest.

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Eureka, CA
Level 2

@Brian2036 Thanks, my thoughts exactly.  I like instant booking because they have to meet the airbnb security requirements..have reviews, no negative reviews, confirm identity and ID...etc.  Is there a way to only do instant booking and not booking requests?  I have my own rentals but airbnb hosting is similar but I have a lot to learn.  Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Heather1311  No, you cannot opt to only receive IBs. And Airbnb has no "security requirements". Verified  ID just means they uploaded a val7d drivers license or some other official ID. It doesn't mean they don't have a warrrant out for their arrest.

 

Re: Can you prioritize someone who inquired, when someone else requests to book?

in
South Korea
Level 10

@Linda3345 

I don't allow instant bookings as my listing is a private room in my home and I like to do my own screening of guests before approving - as already explained above an inquiry and booking request are different and need to be handled differently. 

 

When I get an inquiry I usually either approve and let the potential guest know that it's on them to complete the booking (=pay to finalize the booking) and the system won't let me hold the dates so if someone else inquires and books first there is nothing I can do, or I don't decline/reject and simply state that I don't think we are a good fit and will not pre-approve them, but I don't click on decline.

For booking requests, since if/when I approve the payment will go thru immediately, I will explain this to the potential guest as well and after doing my own screening I either approve or tell the guest that I feel we are not a good fit and he/she should withdraw their request and find a place that better suits their needs. I explain that if I decline, then regardless of the reason why, hosts are penalized for declining so if I approve, then the guest proceeds to get it cancelled because my listing does not meet their needs, even if it is within the full refund including fees window, it will still take several days for the actual refund to go thru which is a hassle for the guest. So it's better for the Guest to withdraw the request right now and make it simple for the both of us. Usually most people who agree we are not a good fit and do not plan to book with me are quick to withdraw their request. For the few that don't..... I will wait half a day and just decline. I know a few declines here and there are okay.... but this way I can keep the # of declines down 🙂 

 

If you prefer longer stays you could simply adjust you min. nights requirement and not allow shorter stays. I have a minimum of 3~5 nights, and I have tweaked prices so that I am one of the more expensive places for a short term stay but competitive for longer stays. Also, pre-covid I preferred to host exchange students as long-term guests for entire semesters, so I would set min. stay requirements according to the school calendar (From end of Feb till end of June/end of Aug till end of Dec, 100 days min). You should play around a bit with these functions to see what works best for you and your listing. 

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