ACCEPT OR DECLINE? How about ask the potential guest a question?

I received an inquiry from a potential guest. They wanted our place to stay as their daughter was getting married nearby. They sent us an nice note and an accept/decline. We responded within 7 minutes to the inquiry by asking the potential guest a generic question about their proposed stay. The potential guest did not answer within 24 hours.

Airbnb sends us a message saying that because we did not accept/decline within 24 hours, our response rate would be “negatively impacted”. Moreover, they were rude. The fact is we DID respond within 7 minutes with a question to the guest!

Calling the customer service help line to explain this was a disaster. They told me next time to “ decline the guest” if they don’t respond within the 24 hour period. Total lunacy. Guest made no error. We as host made no error. Airbnb made, and continues to make, an error with this procedure.

Last year, we had roughly 35 guests staying an average of 4 days at $600 a night. Huge payout to Airbnb. I’m about to give up on Airbnb for the way they treat us as hosts.

I don’t know. When my partner and I first started out (only about a month ago!) we actually called air bnb to get clarity on how inquiries worked. Once we found out there was no penalty to decline the inquiry, we didn’t hesitate to do so. We had 2 inquiries that didn’t respond to our follow up questions, and we declined it within the 24 hour time frame. There’s always an option after declining to send a special offer, and the guest can always reestablish communication aftward… this was sort of a rather be safe than sorry situation for us.

Thanks for the perspective :slight_smile:

This is an interesting conversation. Do we have to Decline an inquiry? I thought we only had to answer and inquiry, …but if it is a booking request, then we must accept or Decline.
Can somebody clarify…I am never scolded for not accepting or declining an inquiry. Has something changed recently?
I do have IB set up.

We are not obligated to do anything beyond respond to an inquiry. A booking request is different and does require an action, i.e. Accept of Decline.


Smtucker thank you for the clarification.

In fact it was a request to book because it offered an ACCEPT or DECLINE as the only options.

So I’m left to believe that with never having conversed with a potential guest, I’m expected by Airbnb to ACCEPT or DECLINE that booking or be “negatively effected’.

Maybe some hosts will do that for their own reasons. I can see Airbnb encouraging that because, well, it makes them more $. They just want the fee. But for thoughtful hosts that want to understand the expectation of the guest, with the goal of exceeding their expectation, it’s a ridiculous policy. We take pride in our home and our treatment of guests and would never commit to a stay without having first conversed with a guest. And to be expected to randomly DECLINE a booking because someone hadn’t responded in 24 hours is harsh at best. I can’t think of anyone that would feel good about being declined. It seems to me that Airbnb, with this policy and others like instant booking, are encouraging non communication between the parties and the only likely outcome are unhappy guests or hosts. Likely both.

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Inquiries also have the ACCEPT and DECLINE option.

Well since it was a request and not just a question, you got penalized as per their terms. You needed to decline or accept, not just answer. If someone doesn’t answer my question within a few hours I decline. They can always rebook later.

You’re in the wrong on this one.


I think inquiries are “pre-approve” & “decline”. The host can choose to block the preappoval days or not. The guest has 24 hours to accept or decline the preapproval at 24 hours it expires.

About a guest response to a follow up question before the host approves/declines: If you want to give the guest more time to answer before approve/decline then send the guest a special offer. The guest’s response clock starts ticking to 24 hours then expires.

Or as suggested by others, decline the reservation & the guest can request it later.

Yes i would DECLINE as required, as soon as I send a message telling them, due to lack of communciation, I must decline

Does it give you the opportunity to explain why their request was declined? I’m not sure about booking requests, but with inquiries there is a field where you can explain why it was declined and the guest will see it. We usually said something about lack of communication and we’d be willing to reconsider if they got in touch and were still interested in booking the dates. Again, not sure if booking requests have a similar feature.

I’ve also encountered this situation more than once. And if they don’t respond after the initial request, I usually feel compelled to decline. I can’t remember how often I’ve done this - but at least twice. I remember that once the guest came back and said, sorry we didn’t get back to you in time, and would like to proceed. Once the guest didn’t get back to me at all. There might have been other instances, but I’d have to look through old Airbnb correspndence to find them. And I think there has been at least one case (and probably more) where I accepted a booking that looked harmless despite the guest not being very communicative.

I agree that this sucks, but I don’t see any other good options. Let’s say the guest makes an initial booking request, say something vague like:

We’re coming to stay! We look forward to meeting you.

Unfortunately, guests that provide any detail in an initial booking request are rare. I like to think I’d be the exception. Anyway, clearly you want more information before making a decision, and the only time you can be sure of getting the guest’s attention is before booking acceptance. Afterwards it is at least possible that they will just ignore requests for information. And if you are going to accept a booking request with so little information, it’s not that different from an instant booking, with the important difference that you do have the information on the guest’s listing, including the reviews and whatever he/she may have written to help you make you your mind.

So, yes, I think much of the time, a decline is the only option if the guest doesn’t respond within the 24 hours. But it’s not a good option.

You can just post a message via the Airbnb messaging system for the guest, explaining why you declined, just like any other message. The Airbnb decline form has a “other” field, or something like that. And that has a place that you can write a message to the guest explaining why you declined. But as far as I can see, it’s functionally the same as just writing/posting a message directly.

Interesting idea. Is there any downside to it? And does anyone know whether one can make more than one special offer?

If it is inquiry, I think it works like you’ve preappoved the rental.

If it is a request to book, it MAY mean you’ve accepted the rental but are awaiting their response on the pricing. The next time I get a request to book, I will read the info about the special offer iotion more closely.

I’m curious to know what the generic question was. Also wondering if a $600 a night house would be a good location for wedding festivities. Perhaps they didn’t answer because they realized this kind of active host wouldn’t be a good match for their planned activities at the house. You may have dodged a bullet.

All that said, this is another reason why Airbnb pushes instant book. People spend hours perusing the site, they choose a place but they aren’t done. Now comes the interrogation. Or sometimes waiting hours only to be declined. It’s not an optimal experience for the people whose money Airbnb depends on.

This is not a criticism of anyone who doesn’t use instant book or who needs good communication from the guest. It’s just an observation on why Airbnb pushes hosts towards IB.


Interrogation??? Maybe other hosts do that but we don’t. We value our guests. Doesn’t make much economic sense to pick on people who want to buy your product. I might suggest there is a lot of difference between developing a repoire and establishing expectations and going through an interrogation.

In our case the potential guest mentioned their daughter was getting married nearby. They also maximized the number of people who would be staying overnight. We wanted to ascertain whether the potential guest planned to host any events that would bring non-overnight guests to our place. Read that to mean… did they plan a party? Our only bad experience with a guest is when they invited a hundred people or more to an all day party prior to a wedding. We take responsibility for not broaching the topic beforehand with the guest.

Nearly every guest we host remarks in their review that they appreciate the communication throughout the process. It gets everyone comfortable. For the guest the fact that their investment of their vacation time and money is safe. For us as hosts knowing we have guests with expectations we can meet.

So for enacting policies that run counter to that, I bring this practice of discouraging communication as something that isn’t a good thing.


Do you think people typically spend a long time choosing a place? I personally have no idea, and have never thought to ask.

Well, it does go both ways. The guests get a sense of what the host is about - his style, his personality. And get an opportunity to clarify any issues that they may have. Though people do also get odd ideas. Some Americans apparently decided that I was “intense”, based on my guest guide. As the guest put it “We thought, that, whoa, he’s intense. But you weren’t like that at all”. Indeed. I don’t think anyone has ever called me intense before.

I’m trying to point out that MAYBE Airbnb and potential guests have a different perspective than the host.

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As a guest I look first for instant book properties. I have had the experience of spending hours (yes hours) looking through listings, sometimes not even knowing which town I wanted to stay in, just seeking the property that would suit me best. Then I request and wait. Once I waited almost 24 hours for my “decline.” After that I just booked a hotel because I didn’t have time to wait 24 hours on each inquiry. I only remove the IB filter if I’m not finding what I want with it on. No doubt I’m missing out on some wonderful hosts and fine properties.

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