Understanding Instant Book
Instant Book basics
Instant Book is a powerful tool that allows guests to instantly book your home for available dates—alleviating the need for you to review and accept each booking request individually. Many hosts report that they earn more money by making the booking process easier for guests, and that they appreciate the convenience this provides. Guests often search for listings with Instant Book.
Keeping your calendar up-to-date is key to using Instant Book successfully. If you’re unable to do this, you could be surprised by unexpected bookings or end up canceling a reservation due to a scheduling error, which could result in a cancellation fee. To ensure that your Airbnb calendar is always current, it’s a good idea to sync it with whatever calendar you primarily use (iCal, Google, etc.).
Tools for extra peace of mind
Some hosts may initially feel hesitant to use Instant Book because they worry that they won’t have much information about potential guests before booking. Before guests can use Instant Book, they must meet all your guest requirements and agree to your house rules. You can set your requirements to offer Instant Book only to guests who have received positive reviews from other hosts, guests who have government-issued IDs, and more.
You can also create a custom greeting and include important questions that Instant Book guests will receive during their booking process:
- Who else will be staying with you?
- What’s the purpose of your trip?
- Are there any other details you’d like to share about your trip?
To host Kristine from San Francisco, positive guest ratings were an important factor. “Once I realized that what I was looking for in guests could be handled automatically by Airbnb,” she says, “it actually made more sense for me to use Instant Book to get the benefits of more views and bookings, while maintaining the same level of guest quality I enjoyed by reviewing requests myself.”
Why you might still get booking requests
Even with Instant Book turned on, there are cases where you might receive booking requests from guests. This could happen if you haven’t updated your calendar in a while, or if you’ve recently needed to cancel a reservation. Guests who don’t meet your criteria to book instantly might also send reservation requests. For any requests that do come through, you’ll need to respond by accepting or declining the reservation, or messaging your prospective guests within 24 hours.
Why some hosts don’t use Instant Book
Despite the benefits of Instant Book, some hosts find that requiring reservation requests works better for them:
- They only offer longer stays. Annie, a host in Sonoma, California, uses reservation requests because she only offers stays of 30 days or more to comply with hosting regulations in her area. “I would love to use Instant Book, but there are a lot more logistics to figure out when you’re hosting someone for that long,” she says. “It’s more like having a tenant.”
- They have unique personal requirements. Nichola, a host in Guelph, Canada, has an environmental sensitivity that requires her to keep her space scent-free, so she uses reservation requests to ensure that guests are willing to agree to her very specific house rules. “I get migraines from scented products so I need to make sure my guests are folks who understand scent allergies,” she says.
- Their space has special features or challenges. Examples might include a private room in a home that includes pets or children, or an extremely rustic space that might be challenging for certain guests. Booking requests can be a good choice for assuring that guests are aware of all the unique aspects of your home before they visit.
Reliability is key for using Instant Book
Whatever decision you make, remember that Airbnb has strict policies around hosts canceling reservations because reliability is a critical part of being a great host. That said, if you use Instant Book and you're uncomfortable with a reservation once it’s made (for instance, because your prospective guests are asking if they can break your house rules), you can cancel a booking without penalty using the online cancellation tool up to three times per calendar year.
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