I started a new thread after a request that I write something if the rest of you want to send your own feedback to Air. To reiterate, I found out that Air is A/B tesing (in certain areas) only showing instant bookable properties if the guest is booking within 7 days. I get many, many last minute requests and even my last Air booking was last minute. Below is the correspondence I received from a rep. confirming this. Then I will post my reply.
Email from Air:
Thank you so much for your call. It was a pleasure speaking to you!
After speaking to my team, it looks like the Instant Book filter is selected automatically if a guest is looking for listings within the next seven nights. As this is a newer feature, it is not the same for everyone, which is why I do not see the same results on my end. I am sorry for the confusion!
Please do not hesitate to email me with any additional questions you may have. I am submitting the feedback that you so thoughtfully provided while on the phone, and absolutely invite you to send me any further feedback you might have. I really appreciate the time you took to relay your experience to me.
Thank you for being such a dedicated member of our Airbnb Superhost community!
All the best,
My response to Air:
Thanks for looking into the timeframe where instant book is the default. Below is my feedback on this change to forward to the powers to be:
I am very disappointed that Air would eliminate properties that are not on instant book, and would prefer to recommend properties that are further distance than where the traveler needs to be. I am in a rural mountainous area, and the roads are very windy. So just because something is listed as 30 miles away - does not mean it won’t take an hour to drive there. I see that the XXXXXX Best Western hotel shows up - which is a 40 minute drive to my area. What a disappointment!
I am in a prime location in the XXXXXXXX area and not to show up to travelers is ridiculous. People who vacation in this small lake town do not want to be staying all the way in XXXXX. And you are also recommending properties that are an hour drive away! - WE all know that guests DO NOT read the listings. They will surely blame the host and think they were advertising their property in the wrong area. Why should Airbnb care? Air collected the booking fee so they are happy. Who cares if the guest doesn’t want to use Air again? I guess Air is in it solely for the short term profits.
If you notice my last booking was with Alen and he made his booking request less than 48 hrs. before arrival. He even made it late at night when I was sleeping. So obviously he was okay with waiting for a response the next day. I get many, many last minute bookings - I don’t solely advertise on Airbnb.
The listing sites have become too greedy and they no longer care about the traveler experience. If I were a traveler I would want all the properties presented to me, not just instant book properties. The properties on instant book are usually the lower class properties anyway.
So I blocked off my entire calendar except for the next few weeks and turned instant booking on since it is the slow season. I cannot turn instant booking on as regular thing. There are certain things that guests need to understand before booking, and if they haven’t read the entire listing and house rules…they will miss it. For instance, the waterfall only runs certain times of year and if it is freezing at night…we cannot even run it during the day - long story why. But guests will be disappointed if they booked because of the waterfall amenity - many have said that is the reason they chose the place. So then I am stuck with an unhappy guest who only chose to look at the pictures. Air gets their precious booking fee, and I am left with the nitpicky review that was not of my doing!
So now that my instant book is turned on - I am unable to book all of late Spring and Summer because I had to block all those dates in order to feel safe to turn it on. I am also listed on Expedia and booking.com and cannot have the same dates open on more than one site. If I do then I can get a double booking within seconds of each other. Air should have an option to allow people to turn on instant book for specific dates only.
Another issue is that guests think their babies and toddlers don’t count as guests. That is a major complaint of many Air hosts…and I always have to verify when the guest inquirers. I had a recent inquiry say it was just her and her husband. Come to find out she wanted to invite 26 people over for a “gathering” - she said she saw my listing stated no parties or events, but this was only a gathering.
I had a Flipkey guest say it was just her and husband and then I asked about visitors and she said it would only be about 30 photographer and models who would be doing a photoshoot. This is why it is important to not have instant book on for whole home rentals.
It’s your site though and I don’t pay a subscription fee…so your rules. But I am no longer investing my time in Homeaway, Airbnb, Flipkey, etc. Those sites used to work - now all of them are in a big money grab.
The service fees are too high. I get just as many bookings through my own website - then I don’t have to worry about all the silly games of hiding listings and manipulating search results. That’s my rant for the day…
WARNING! When I wrote in my post that instant book properties are usually the lower class ones…Pleeeaaase no one take any offense. In my area there are not shared spaces, etc. like there are in the urban markets. And in my area the instant book properties are usually the property managers that are trying to squeeze in so many people like sardines.
I do use instant book on Booking.com, Expedia, and sometimes on Air. I just stated it as a general statement to get the attention of Air. Apologies in advance if I accidentally offended anyone
What a terrible move on the part of AirBNB (yet another one). Your example shows that AirbNB is actually showing really reduced inventory to prospective guests who may opt to do something entirely different (like change their travel plans) because they don’t realize that there are other options available.
It makes me crazy to see them pulling in properties so far away! I want to jump up and down waiving my hands…HERE I AM, HERE I AM…right here where you want to be staying.
So guests have to know to un-check Instant Book if they want to do a true search?
Yes. They have to notice it. And I doubt most would unless they host. I do not think I would ever notice something like that. My eye is immediately drawn to the homes shown.
Just like with Homeaway and their pop up “your dates are near, show properties with online booking” or whatever it says. I clicked on it and POOF - my property disappeared from the search results.
As the average traveler I would assume when I clicked something like that - I might be sorting for online booking first. I would never think that they are completely removing certain properties from search results. And on Homeaway the guest can see my phone number and call right away. That’s way faster than waiting to receive a reply through email.
email@example.com is the email address I always receive the follow up email from (after I make a phone call). They always ask me to reply back to that address to type out my feedback.
What is confusing to me is how the email seems to go back to the same rep. who wrote it. Does anyone know how that can happen? Maybe there are only a few reps and one person monitors the emails? And then that person forwards them along to the appropriate rep?