***NOTE***: Some of the images have changed a little but will be explained in the description of that section.
I see several hosts wondering why their response rating has decreased or their calendar block 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 and in many instances result in your calendar being blocked.
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 host may receive pre-approvals from several guests 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” or “Decline” or respond in the response box. Please note in the picture below there is a "Dismiss" button which has since been removed. 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. Also, if you do not accept or decline, your calendar can be blocked for the dates that the guest requested. 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 or you can send them a special offer which becomes available when you decline.
Why does letting the 24 hours pass without accepting or declining affect your response rate and blocking of your calendar?
Many people get upset by having their calendar blocked or their response rating decreased because they did not accept or decline. I do understand some of these situations as you could be in different time zones or it may take forever for a guest to respond back. I also agree with why Airbnb does this. You see, when a guest sends a request, they have to go through the check out process of adding their payment method as Airbnb either charges them in full or places a pre-authorization on their payment method. If the reservation is declined or it expires, they may not have access to that money on their payment method sometimes up to 10 days as it takes time for that money to be returned to their payment method. Not only that, they have also wasted a day trying to find a place and now they have to find another place. Many times this can happen to a guest 3 or 4 times and many may leave Airbnb after the first time.
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!
Hi, I read on another community post that there is a place in our listing where we can see inquiries from guests that have been rejected from Airbnb and don’t even reach a host. I can’t seem to find that anywhere, does that feature still exist? Does Airbnb not screen inquiry’s anymore? Tks
If I declined reservation within 1 hour, why is my calendar blocked for the requested reservation dates.
When I receive an INQUIRY in my email, at the bottom of the message from the person making the inquiry is one long red tab button , and inside this button are the words " Pre-approve/Decline". Below it is a white box that says "reply". When I hit the "pre-approve/decline" button, it takes me to Airbnb website's message area and allows me to only send a message or a special offer. There is a decline box at the top that also says to keep my calendar up to date and my house rules up to date, but if I click on it nothing happens. It is not activated in any way. How do you actually decline an inquiry. Do you have to have CHROME? I am on Internet Explorer.
When I try and send any inquiry to the host of the listing I am interested in all the check in and check out dates are grey out and I am not able to complete the message. It cannot be that they are booked up for the next year and a half! What's going on here?
While I appreciate the detail of this article, I do not see specifically stated that there is no penalty to only replying to an inquiry. Additionally why does the Airbnb app appear to limit your choices within 24 hours to either pre-approve or decline a reservation. I realize Airbnb would like you to make a clear decision to make it easy on the guest. I do this when the guest appears to be a good match or clearly not a match, (for instance if they ask about 3 people when my listing clearly states it is only for 2 people).
This is what happened to me again today. Guest sees I can only accommodate 4 people. Sends an inquiry with only 1 guest but mentions there are 5 people. I respond within
2 minutes that I can only accommodate
4 people, now this was only an inquiry. My
Question is what now? I didn't decline him because I'm worried about that affecting my
stats, will I be penalized for letting the clock run out? My understanding is I won't. But it would be nice if there was a Note next to the decline button clarifying/reminding you of AIRBNB'S policy.