Declining a low-ball offer without damaging my acceptance rate

Hi all – lurker here, but wanted to preface and say THANK YOU for all of your collective input. I read tons on this forum and it has been immensely useful. Anyway:

Title pretty much says it all. Got a “Request” / “Inquiry” (still not quite sure if I’m understanding the verbage correctly) to rent our space for less than 50% of what we ask for (along with a vague message that seemed to imply they couldn’t pay the cleaning fee, either).

I don’t want to accept this. It is high-season and there is a decent chance of these two nights filling at the last minute, as we are a couple hour drive from a big city and get plenty of ‘impulsive’ trips.

I messaged the guest back and kindly said “No, sorry”, and they replied with “Let us know if you change your mind”.

Ok, so, now: Do I click “Decline”? I am worried it will negatively impact my acceptance rate. Or should I just let it expire (that also seems like it could have negative impacts on my response rate). I suppose the final option is to ask the guest to cancel their request, but that seems like a bit of a long shot…what is their incentive to do so…

Thanks for your input.

Yes, decline with the reason being you are not comfortable. Never ever ever give people discounts. People like they expect complete perfection and then ding you in the review/star rating despite you going above and beyond for them.


This has been covered here many times. If it’s an inquiry, the only thing you need to do is respond to it. It’s not necessary to decline, and most of us are of the opinion that doing do is a bad idea. It won’t affect your acceptance rate, as long as you reply to the query.

This site really should create an FAQ page, and add this question to it. It keeps coming up. Of course, Airbnb does its bit to muddy the waters.


You MUST understand the difference between an Inquiry and a Request To Book. It tells you which it is right at the of of the page.

An Inquiry is just a question about your place – Can I smoke? How close are your to…? Can I try to dicker down the price? You do not have to click Accept or Decline – just answer the Inquiry and Send your response. Air puts that Accept/Decline up there to try and get you “upselling” your place by clicking Accept.

A Request To Book is just that – “I want to stay at your place from this date to that date.” You must Accept or Decline. If the Request is accompanied by a message about changing anything like price, then Decline because they are trying to violate your Terms of Service. If the Request has something wrong like the Guest has no picture or something doesn’t sound right you can also Decline because you "don’t feel comfortable. 99.5% of the time you will Accept a Request to book. If you Decline often, Air can dump your account…


Actually, a third alternative is to ask the guest to cancel the Booking Request. But hosts rarely seem to try to do this for some reason.

For an Inquiry, Accept isn’t actually an option, since the guest isn’t actually booking. The affirmative option here would be Preapprove.

Me - I just accept them.

If they book at the price that Airbnb is showing, that is what they will pay …so they won’t book. As easy as that.
If so inclined add a message saying … you are welcome to stay, but Airbnb is already showing you our best price.


I’d send them a special price of twice the original. I’ve done this recently as a person was trying to make a 3rd party booking … I’d never offer discount. The price is the price.


Yes, somebody mentioned elsewhere that they’ve done that. And apparently the system considers a Special Offer as an acceptable alternative to accepting a Booking Request. Which is a bit surprising, to me, at least.

well, I thought I understood, until I read all the replies!


Lol! Do you get any responses after that? Like ‘why did the price suddenly go up?’

It’s my annoyance fee, a special offer I provide to all bargain hunters :rofl:


You have 24 hours to respond.

I seemingly get them for same day and as they are not exactly a priority I often get a full price booking before I respond.

I have not tried special offer.

Otherwise I just pre approve, yet to have one book.

If it is a booking enquiry then you safely accept.

Hi @faheem,

Not sure if I would call it an “acceptable alternative” as opposed to a pre-approval under your terms. The system just recognises that you can host this guest under the terms that you specify. Therefore, an acceptance.

You have to decline and then refresh the page so that the special offer shows up when it comes as a booking request. It changes in your message thread from declined to “special offer sent”. Voila, no decline.


I hope Barns’s head now hurts as much as mine now does.


Hi @beachsidecottages,

A little more detail/elaboration here would be appreciated, though I doubt I’ll ever try this approach. Firstly, is this something that you’ve successfully done yourself?

So you first decline the request, and immediately afterwards make a special offer? Or do you make the special offer before declining the request? The order is probably important. Thanks in advance.

Hi @faheem

Actually, I have done this before but not to put the price up. It was a last minute booking for one guest so I wanted to give a small discount.

When you get a booking request you do not have the option to send a special offer. It does not appear on the page at all. At least, last time I checked. When you get a booking inquiry, it is there. We went to instant book a few months ago so I am speaking of prior to that.

In order to have the special offer show up on your page when you get a booking request, you have to decline and refresh the page and then the fields appear to fill in.

It’s just a handy way to avoid a decline if you get a booking request from a group that absolutely does not suit your property - exceeds maximum occupancy, check in way outside your window, pets in a no pet property, etc. Oh, and low ball offers…

Now that these declines are being shown as a percentage and counting towards the basic requirements this is just a way around declines that may be an unfair count on your stats.

Hope that helps, Lisa

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Hi @faheem,

Now that I think about it there was another occasion when a guest put in a request for one adult and the message thread indicated more would be coming. Rather than accept and alter the reservation, you can decline and send a special offer with the correct booking amount from the onset. It might just be a personal preference, but this is how I used to update an incorrect request.


@doughpat -
If the guest has submitted a request, they have already entered their credit card information. If you accept, then their card gets charged for the advertised rate. You should either accept or decline a booking request. If they make a Request, but accompany it by asking for a discount, you can always say no and accept them anyway. Then they have to cancel or their card gets charged.

If it is just an inquiry, Air will still try to “nag” you into accepting or declining. You do not have to do either - all you have to do is respond. We’re on Instant Book (no requirements) and Air still tries to get me to approve or decline an inquiry. I never fall for it.


Hi @beachsidecottages

Thank you for the clarification. It’s helpful to know these options. But I suspect I’ll be choosing this path very rarely.

But a person with a low ball offer can’t make a booking request.


Actually it is mostly new users who do not know the difference between a request and an inquiry. When I first looked as a guest a few years ago, I sent out 2 questions and both reservations got accepted. It was about $2500 and it took 3 weeks to get my money back which is not great when you are planning a holiday. Most new users do not know how to remove their request so it is nice to have an option to undo it without penalty if they just ignore your polite request to withdraw it.

I have found that even with alterations, I do not like to leave it up to the guest to accept. We once gave a free upgrade and put in an alteration that never got accepted so the calendar remained blocked and the review was on the wrong listing. I eventually called CS to sort it out. I use this tool now so that I am not dependant on the guest to accept any changes. If I had a pet fee for example, and was not on instant book, I would use this so that the correct amount is charged at the onset.

In the last 6 months, we have had 2 requests that have asked for a lower rate so this is not unheard of. I do let guests know about sending an inquiry instead so that their card does not get charged. (I did not ask for a discount, just a question - but - learned that lesson the hard way!) Hopefully they do not continue to send these types of requests to other hosts.

I noted on another thread that this is just a way to undo a decline:

"The staffer walked me through the steps required to undo the “denied” request.
I went into the message and sent a “special offer” Kept all the pricing the same and I am waiting to get a confirmation.”

It’s just a tool you can use for multiple reasons with a little loophole that lets you decline unsuitable guests and then have it change inside the system to a special offer at whatever price would make you willing to host them, which counts as accepted. Some hosts seem to be plagued by nonsensical requests and it is them that would benefit from this the most particularly if it will stop them from getting their listing suspended.


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