Experimenting with instant book

I know I will sound like a complete hypocrite because I have often spoken out against using instant book, but I was thinking of toying with the feature that allows only recommended guests to book without pre-approval. My rationale is two-fold:

  1. Air makes it very clear they put listings with instant booked switched on at the top of the search results, and
  2. Ninety percent of inquiries and booking requests I receive are from first-time users, so in theory I would still be able to screen them. Folks who have positive reviews from other hosts I would pretty much automatically accept anyway.

Still haven’t made up my mind, but I thought I would try switching it on and see if I notice any difference.

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I’m thinking of doing this also so would be interested in everyone’s comments

Still hesitating to switch it on, but I probably will. The only thought I have had thus far as that I need to be super extra careful to make sure I have blocked off dates i don’t want to host ahead of time. Because, they give you three free cancellations if some psycho happens to slip through the system and you need to cancel, but having an inaccurate calendar doesn’t count. Hmmm…

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If you turn it on and require only recommended guests, and 90% of your guests are first time users - will that in the end reduce your bookings?

Or are you saying only recommended guests can use the instant book feature, but if a first time user wants to book they need to inquire, and then you can pre-approve them?

Yeah I think that’s how it works - if there new they have to request and be accepted. I’m actually not 100 percent sure

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We have it on and set to only recommended guests. We used one of our free cancels bc of a schedule conflict- I fibbed and said our condo wasn’t a good fit. Other than that snafu so far so good, and yes we are MUCH higher on the search ranking.

Give it a try. You get three free cancellations a year if you don’t feel comfortable with the people after the fact. If you happen to be in a situation to have to cancel 3 people, then just switch it off.

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The one thing to be very careful about is if your are listing on multiple sites. That’s why I never pre-approve an inquiry. For example, if I were to pre-approve then guest can basically instant book. But if get an instant book from Booking.com, and the Air guest books within minutes, I could easily have a double booking on my hands, as I may not have been able to close off the Air calendar in time.

It’s the same with Flipkey. If you send your guest a quote, I was told guest can instant book. I no longer will send a quote on Flipkey.

Good info, azreala, thanks! Can you confirm whether first-timers can still contact you for approval? I can’t see why they wouldn’t be able to, but as you can see, as a group we’re not yet 100% sure. Lol.

Good to keep in mind. I am only listed on one other site, and i am usually in the habit of making sure all my calendars are in synch. Thanks! This is a very helpful discussion.

Yes, you get an Approve/Decline option as opposed to Pre-Approve.

Nice! Thanks for the info.

Are you clear what “recommended guests” means? Because I’m not.

Yes, that part I am pretty sure I get. It means they have used Air before and have at least one review with a thumbs up on their profile.

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Ok. Is that documented somewhere, and if so, can you point me to it? That looks like pretty minimal validation, though. Would others care to share their experiences with instant book, if any?

Only once have I given an Air guest a thumbs down. They took my electric kettle into the room for some reason and scratched up the glass top desk I have in the room. If I understand how this works that guest would not be able to book instantly if a host has ‘only recommended guests’ turned on.

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But he/she could have a thumbs up from another review though, right? Or am I missing something?

You know you raise a good point. The info I’ve reviewed is here: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/484/what-is-instant-book. I am not sure if a single thumbs down would invalidate other thumbs up reviews on their profile. I will continue to research this and may contact Air with an inquiry.

First timers can still contact do, and do from my experience, but it is a typical pre-approval/decline or if they are serious and plug in their credit info its is accept/decline

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Yes, I’ve seen that article before. It’s rather vague. The relevant sentence is
"only guests who have received positive reviews from other hosts." But it’s not clear what that means. It’s nice that Airbnb takes such a relaxed and casual attitude towards other people’s business and safety.

That sounds like a good idea. Please keep us updated. And tell them to post the actual criteria they use for “recommended guests”. Thanks.