What is Instant Book? Is it Important and Why?

What is Instant Book? Is it Important and Why?

If you’re a host or property manager on Airbnb.com, chances are, you’ve come across the Instant Book option, which the platform introduced to improve the user experience on its platform and speed up the booking process. You might even know a few people who already use this feature and you probably wonder what’s in it for you.

What you need to know is that, as with anything, Instant Book on Airbnb comes with its own perks and downsides. So I am about to break them down for you, so you can make an informed decision as to if Instant Book is right for you.

What is Instant Book?

Instant Book is a feature that allows guests to book a property automatically, after browsing the listings. In other words, Instant Book reservation requests don’t need to be approved by the host prior to confirming the booking. Instead, guests can enter their travel dates and proceed straight to discussing check-in with the host which makes it a hassle-free booking process for guests and hosts alike. According to Airbnb, the feature helps increase the number of reservations too.

So how does Instant Book make it easier for hosts? Let’s explore!

What are some of the benefits of having Instant Book on?

Making the hosts’ life easier

This feature removes the need for you to have to respond to each and every request and you can save time on guest communication and spend it on other essential tasks. This feature also removes the risk of you being labelled an ‘unresponsive’ host.

Making the guests life easier

Many guests who book accommodation on the run are either logging at airports or train stations, trying to book somewhere to stay for the night. They are sitting with their laptops trying to plan a holiday with limited time so they can certainly benefit from filters on Airbnb so that only accommodation with Instant Book appears in their searches.

Moving your Airbnb up the list

The Instant Book feature benefits your response rate for your listing which has the potential to move you up the list when it comes to search results. Your listing’s position is automatically lowered within Airbnb’s rankings when you don’t have Instant Book on. By improving your ranking, you can increase visibility for your listing.

Helps with Superhost status

To secure Superhost status on Airbnb you need to be a host that has at least a 90 percent response rate. By allowing Instant Book, your chances of achieving this status are increased.

Maximizes your bookings

Having Instant Book turned on will help you secure more reservations. Guests enjoy a hassle-free booking process. So, they often use filters to find a listing that can be booked with just one click. This is why, by turning this feature on, you can speed up the whole booking process and drive more prospective guests to your listing. To put it simply, more bookings means more reviews.

Maximize your bookings

The benefits of more money and more bookings are great; however, does it come at a cost to the work/life balance of being a host?

Are there any downsides related to using Instant Book?

The biggest problem with Instant Book is possibly the fact that it removes a barrier between you and your guest and therefore reduces some of your control when it comes to who walks through the front door.

As with many hosts, you probably want to look at a potential guest’s profile and read their references and reviews before approving. You want to make sure the personality and expectations of the guest are suited to the space and may even want to read a message from the guest explaining their purpose for travel.

With Instant Book however, guests book a reservation first and go over details with the host after the reservation is made. This can be a bit of a roller coaster ride for both parties as it creates a situation where the clients “book first, ask questions later”, meaning they don't have the opportunity to learn the rules first.

In general, Instant Book leads to more cancellations – possibly because the guest doesn’t feel like they have engaged with the host or made a firm commitment. Additionally, when guests fail to read the rules, it could lead to increased cancelations and this can lead to a loss in profit, if you get a last-minute cancelation. For instance, if someone books and in 3 days decides they want to cancel, you just lost 3 days worth of marketing your unit to paying customers.

Another major drawback is that hosts and property managers can’t decide on who makes reservations to stay at their vacation rental. Many hosts prefer to vet their guests before they allow them to stay in their homes and you may feel that Instant Book takes this right away from you.

Now that we have weighed in the pros and cons, if you are still unsure about using it, learning tactics on using Instant Book effectively may be able to help you optimize the use of this feature.

How to use Instant Book effectively?

1. Set Up a Dialogue

Screening for bad vacation rental guests is always a good idea. If you feel any reservations or doubts about your potential guest, try starting up a dialogue with them. You can get a better idea of the type of guest you are dealing with during a conversation.

For example, you can ask at what time the guest will arrive, if he or she checked the house rules and if there are any special requirements on their end. You can also ask if they have any questions or concerns about house rules and short term rental agreement to make sure that they’ve read them.

2. Include a 1-day Notice for Your Instant Bookings

One option you might want to avoid is allowing same-day requests with Airbnb Instant Book. Same-day bookings can be hard to manage, especially when it comes to property preparation and cleaning. To avoid last-minute surprise bookings, set a 1-day notice for all reservations, or more if you feel like it’s necessary. Airbnb will automatically block the chosen days in your calendar.

3. Set a Minimum and Maximum Stay

Instant Book on Airbnb allows you to use filters to help you avoid short bookings or guests who only want to stay for one night. You can add a 2 or 3-night stay requirement to have enough time to prepare your property for the next guests. Moreover, setting a minimum-stay requirement will help you to drive away guests who rent a house for the purpose of throwing a party. You should also set a maximum stay policy for your vacation rental. If you don’t set a maximum number of nights, Airbnb will automatically apply a 14-night maximum stay to your listing.

4. Add Additional Requirements for Guests

Airbnb claims that your guests will meet all of Airbnb’s requirements before they make a reservation. However, Airbnb can’t guarantee that all the requirements will be met. That is why it is a good decision to add additional guest requirements to protect yourself, such as: Limit bookings to guests who’ve submitted their government-issued ID to Airbnb

Only accept guests who’ve already used Airbnb and received positive reviews from other hosts.

5. Cancel a Reservation if Necessary

You don’t have to put up with a reservation that makes you feel uncomfortable or raises doubts. According to Airbnb cancellation policies, you are able to cancel reservations if you have a solid reason to do so. This option allows you to have more control over your reservations, even when they are booked instantly.

Instant Book

What are some FAQ’s about Instant Book?

Can I cancel an Instant Book reservation penalty-free?

Yes. Hosts who have Instant Book turned on can cancel without penalty. They will have to provide reasons as to why they don’t want to proceed with a reservation. Hosts can’t cancel penalty-free if their reasons violate Airbnb’s non-discrimination policy.

Here are a few examples of when you may cancel the booking without penalty:

  • If the guest is unreliable and has bad reviews;

  • If the guest hasn’t responded or avoids responding to your questions about his or her trip;

  • If the guest is likely to break your house rules, i.e. if guests make it clear that they will bring a pet or smoke inside when both things are strictly forbidden.

Keep in mind that you can cancel Instant Book reservations only 3 times in a single year. After that, to cancel a reservation that you’re uncomfortable with, you will have to contact airbnb.com/help to get a penalty-free cancelation. If it happens quite often, Airbnb will require you to turn the Instant Book option off.

How and when can I enable/disable Airbnb Instant Book?

You can enable/disable Instant Book at any time. To turn on or off the Airbnb Instant Book feature, open Booking Settings. To enable Instant Book, select “Guests who meet all your requirements can book without requesting approval”. If you want to disable Instant Book, you should select “All guests must send reservation requests”.

However, instead of turning off this feature, Airbnb advises and encourages hosts to explore other useful options. For instance, if you notice that you don’t have enough time between reservations for, let’s say, cleaning, you can edit calendar settings to block days between bookings automatically.

Be sure to check out the guest, calendar, and reservation settings available and opt for the ones that will help attract reservations that fit your listing. If you manage multiple accounts, adjusting your settings, updating calendars, and tracking reservations are much easier with a vacation rental software, such as Hostaway. You can easily turn on/turn off Instant Book for your listings via Hostaway.

Why does Airbnb give a search boost to hosts who have Instant Book turned on?

The answer to this question is pretty simple. Airbnb promotes listings with the Instant Book option turned on because the company wants to make sure that travelers choose its platform for booking vacation rentals. Guests are more likely to choose rentals that can be booked instantly due to convenience. Instantly bookable rentals ensure more future business for hosts, as well as more business for Airbnb.

Who should not use Instant Book?

If you don’t want someone rocking up to your door within four hours of booking your place on Airbnb…then it’s best not to use Instant Book. The feature doesn’t necessarily allow guests to book and arrive in such a short space of time but for many travellers – that ease is what they are looking for with the instant booking feature.

Does your Airbnb listing have shared spaces like a communal kitchen or bathroom? If so, you probably want to vet guests rather than let them book instantly as there’s a chance people who are less compatible with your set-up might end up staying with you.

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