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Inquiries vs Reservations?

Hi Everyone!

When I started this little business back in June most inquiries translated into bookings.

Now, however, I’m running at about 50%.

What’s ‘normal’?

I’m guessing A) people are planning farther ahead and there’s more to choose from and/or B) more people are getting into the business and there’s more to choose from or C) I sound to desperate in my responses, lol - can you let me know what your experience is? I know that new hosts are popping up like crazy right now. Wish I’d gotten into this business a year ago!

Here’s an example of my replies - I always strive to keep it upbeat and welcoming -

Hi (Name)!

We’d love to have you come stay with us! Thanks for contacting us!

You and your girlfriend will have 1 private bedroom with a queen size airbed and a twin bed. There should be a full bathroom (it is under construction!) and there is a small kitchenette for you.

I make a nice continental breakfast with pastry, cheeses, and fruit every morning.

How will you be arriving? We can pick you up at the metro station if our schedule allows. If you are taking the bus from NYC, choose Bolt Bus to Greenbelt Station. Then you are only 1 Metro stop away from where we will pick you up.

Thanks (name)!

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I don’t think you sound desperate at all. It’s a bit long in my opinion tu it depends what they were asking.
Number 1 reason why I switched to IB is because the Inquires were streaming my way without people booking.
I don’t know why, I usually answer within 10 minutes.
When I switche to IB I spent much less time answering.
And people booked for sure.
Only this week I had about 10 inquires and those never booked with me. I only got book through IB.
Now when I see inquiry I kind of doubt they will be booking and usually that’s the case.

Thanks for the feedback.

Interesting about IB - did your bookings increase? Since I almost never decline (ok except the lady from Brazil who wanted to bring her ‘very well behaved cat’…) I’m strongly considering IB. I’ve heard other opinions, but I’m just not sure how you can really weed out those that aren’t going to fit. Like I’ve said, the guests I have been most leery about were wonnnderful, and the guy who had several good reviews (one of my only experienced airbnbers) was very loud at all hours and left trash everywhere for me to pick up.

Do you have a lot of competition in your area, Yana? It does help to know that I’m not the only one having inquiries that don’t book. I got spoiled during our busy season!!

It could very well be that more people are learning about Air, and are just shopping around - never really intending to book. Or it could also be more competition in your area like you said. Any idea if more people in your area offer the moderate or flexible policy? You have strict…correct? That could be another reason; however, that’s okay. Let the others risk cancellation. I have never kept track of my conversion rate, as many don’t meet the min. night stay requirements.

When they inquire, I will reply to answer any questions they have, and that is it. Ex: "Hi XXXX, Yes the dates are currently available. Such and such attraction is exactly one hour from the cabin. Let me know if I can answer anything else about the property or the area. Thanks!

I don’t try to sell them on anything. Then if they respond to my response and say they would like to book, etc. - I begin to do my screening. I ask if there will be any other members in the party besides the ones mentioned. I ask if there will be any visitors during their stay. I also ask if they have read the house rules and have any questions about them, and ask if they noticed in the listing that I have to collect the county portion of lodging tax. And now I ask them if they have read the cancellation policy.

Now that Air collects the state portion, all of my guests are confused. If they just read the listing it clearly explains what Air collects and what I collect. But my guests have not been able to grasp this and usually several emails go back and forth repeatedly asking if all the tax is included in the total. Once we get past that then they usually book.

I am going to guess it is due to more and more competition. Have you checked your competitors’ calendars?

Definitely I got more bookings with IB. Like a minute ago I was booked for weekend as 1 girl got stuck at airport for 2 days bcs she was late for her flight. Mine are mostly late minutes so really to have IB the room needs to be alway ready. I am not even home right now, I leave keys in secret place always and if I have booking like this I just tell guests to self check in. When busy season comes I have to rearrange my work hours as I won’t be able to have back to back. I can do it bcs I am my own boss but for people working out of the house from 8-5 it’s kind of hard to do.

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That’s true that more people are getting into the business but there are also more people who travel learn about Airbnb. I have so many newbies travelers who stayed with me for the first time through Airbnb.
When I was bombarded with I Inquires during spring break in March I couldn’t figure out what’s going on with such high demand. And when I checked available room for under 100$ it was only 2 available from Palm beach to South beach. The whole South Florida was occupied by spring breakers:). And my price was almost twice of what it is now.

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I search my area by various dates - such as March 20 when the cherry blossoms bring many to our area. I check the prices and what they offer, to see how I compare. I offer a free breakfast and (though I don’t state it specifically) an opportunity to be in a home with a family. I can see that that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but some book specifically for that purpose because they want to see 'typical American life" (which is a little sad because we hardly watch TV and never watch sports, so don’t think of us as ‘typical American’).

And I agree, lots of people are trying Air at the moment - as I’ve said, most of my guests are newbies, and I welcome them. Perhaps because they know they are staying in a home with kids, that we home school, and I work for my church, we just attract the type of guest that are open, friendly, and polite. So far. ; )

Is there a way we can tell if an inquirer ended up booking another property (and which one)? That would be interesting. I thought I read a comment about that on here once.

Yes, you can see if the inquirer booked another property. It sends you a message: Robert doesn’t need a room anymore or smth like that

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That’s so interesting - I’ve only gotten 1 or 2 messages like that. So if, in my messages folder it still shows ‘pre-approved’ they haven’t booked anything on Air?

I have one that says ‘closed’ - she told me she booked somewhere else - and one marked ‘not possible’ (I had later blocked those dates) and one that says ‘closed’ - all others say ‘pre-approved’.

Interesting. I will have to pay attention to future inquiries. I have never received a message like that. But I think I do have one that shows closed.

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Yes, it would be encouraging to know they didn’t find a better place on Air, just decided that sharing may not be the best way for them to go. ???

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I don’t think you can see wich appartment they booked though

Well, after the date of the reservation passes, just click on their profile – you can see who reviewed them and where they stayed.

Is it a slow time of a year? I use airbnb to travel a lot of the time and I make inquiries to several places that I like and take the cheapest one. It might be that people are doing the same (get a discount).

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OH, how interesting! I do sometimes look at their ‘wish list’. But now I realize they are not usually booking with airbnb, so, I know that what I’m offering and my price are not what’s turning them away.

As Cabin said, I think it’s a lot of new people checking it out. It might be that, when they see they have to submit their ID, they decide to not go this route. So many of my guests are first-timers, and they all said they heard about it from a friend and ‘decided to check it out’. So perhaps a number of my inquiries are just that - people checking it out, but then preferring the predictability of a hotel.

Thanks, everyone!

Dunno… Sounds a bit too much to me. When I get an inquiry, I tell them what the tax will be and answer basic questions. ( If they start asking me a boatload of questions about Hawaii and what they should see and do, I tell them I will answer more extensive questions later once they have booked or refer them to the travel guidebook that I write for… ) That’s it.

Your response comes across as a little too “eager” and might scare me off. :slight_smile: I don’t say that to be mean, but to be honest since you asked. I think also that people inquire at a bunch of different properties, so it’s not a surprise when you don’t hear back.

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DC another thing you can do is list on other platforms and sync the calendars… Even though I hate it FlipKey has brought me some bookings and so has Wimdu…based in Germany. You could also try listing on Craigslist during the slow times. It could be seasonal slowdown. This time of year is kinda dead everywhere.

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What form is the enquiry taking? Have you changed anything in that time in the words/phrases you use?

You are very good with words DC and I’m sure if you throw some personal touches in there it will help close the deal and separate you from others. At the moment its all quite bland/generic. Also are you sure you want to offer a lift upfront??? I reakon its better to underpromise and over deliver. Just leave it at “how are you arriving/own car or public transport?”

I always make the assumption that the enquiry WILL be booking. Some examples of my personal touch responses go a bit like this:

"We really look forward to meeting you, we have had to cancel our trip to France this year, so will be nice to have some French culture in our home! :slight_smile: "

"well you have chosen a good weekend to come to this area! Its also our very own highland games that Saturday a great local highlands dance at our village hall with a very popular rocking ceilidh band playing so you would be in for a very special treat if you decide to go to that! "

“Hi XXX, We would love to host you and your family for a night - I’ve been to the Yunnan, so would be really awesome to host people from there.”

“we would love you and your friends to stay. We will have only just had a new heating and hot water system installed the first week of July and so you’ll have to bear with us if we get any teething problems. It is a system that will run entirely on wood burning, so we are quite excited as our current system is very un-ecofriendly being just electric. If this sounds too much of an adventure I’ll understand, but I hope it won’t put you off. The only thing I would say is try to make the time to spend here in our glen it is a really amazing spot and has its own lochs, streams, river, gorges and views and you’ll be hard pressed to see another person, let alone another tourist! I’ll send you some detailed directions once you book”

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Perhaps just an increase in competition and choices available as you indicated?

On instant book, I’m finding especially coming into the holiday season, I’m beginning to decline very short bookings in favour of long bookings as I know many people come in over he holidays and would look for longer bookings which work better for us too!

So I’m glad that not having instant book has allowed me the flexibility to begin to work around trends, while still leaving the option of accepting the 1 or 2 days bookings if the strategy doesn’t work.

Recently declined a booking from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. I may not be around and would prefer a longer booking that covers the period, so I don’t have to be welcoming a guest on Christmas Day. Stuff like that!

:smile:

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