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90% of the bookings I get are from people who instant book and don’t ask any questions. But many potential guests send me inquiries. They ask if these dates are available or some other question that is already covered in the listing (such as “Do you have AC”, “Are pets allowed”). I used to respond to inquiries with accurate answers. But most people who send an inquiry don’t book. So I have stopped spending my energy in responding to their questions. I do respond to questions from confirmed guests to the best of my ability and I have received lots of good reviews. I qualify for superhost in the current cycle. I send a canned response to inquiries that keeps my response rate high but half the time my canned response doesn’t address the question a lookie-loo is asking. Is there any downside to this strategy?
My canned message is something like this "I wanted to confirm right away that it would be a pleasure to host you from Saturday, July 31 to Saturday, August 7 (4 people for 7 nights). Please check the description and photos in the listing for more details. Let me know if you agree with my house rules. "
Personally, we agree with you. The big thing with Inquiries is to “reply with something, anything at all, and quickly” - merely to maintain the high response rate.
I could be wrong, but my understanding is only the initial inquiry and time to respond to it matters (must be under 24 hours but shorter is better) - and not any subsequent msg’s.
Your canned msg seems pretty nice. Perhaps you might add something like “After reviewing our listing details, if you have any questions, please let us know”.
People don’t read anyway, especially guests. So, if most of your inquiries never result in bookings then don’t waste more time than needed. You have better things to do!
My experience as well. I have Instant Book too and can’t recall the last time I’ve had an inquiry translate to a booking. Your canned message strategy sounds good and I’m beginning to do that too.
Personally, it hardly costs me any more time to also answer reasonable (non-prying) questions in addition to or as an alternative to the canned message. I use the canned message to tell them that my listing is available for Instant Booking by guests who satisfy listed requirements including …[ID, blah]… among others. If your profile or that of another guest in your party satisfies those requirements, you should be able to instantly book without needing to send a request for my approval.
As a retired teacher who had to repeat things over and over that were in the syllabus, instructions, that I’d just said, that common sense would answer, etc., I know how this feels. I don’t get this much with Airbnb because I just have a small room for two. It’s exasperating for sure and since there always seems to be another, more savvy guest around the corner, it’s easy to write that guest off.
I’d like to be contrary and suggest that answering questions is one of the annoying parts of the job, as it was with my teaching job. Many hosts think having long detailed descriptions, lots of rules and repeating things over and over in the listing is the magic way to prevent such inquiries. I don’t.
Have you ever used Airbnb as a guest? I find booking an Airbnb to be a very laborious project. There is no uniformity. Even when I filter with lots of boxes checked and SH and IB selected I get dozens, if not hundreds, of results. Then I’m expected to read paragraphs and paragraphs of details. More than one experienced host has posted here about booking a place and then realizing that they missed some detail about no AC or parking.
One odd thing I learned recently is that if someone who doesn’t satisfy your Instant Book requirements sends you a Booking Request (not Inquiry as in OP’s question), even though they don’t satisfy your requirements, your dates get blocked until you explicitly decline them or 24 hours pass, and the declination would have some weak impact in some less important host awesomeness metric they track. And 24 hours passing counts as equivalent to declination, so you might as well decline sooner than later to free up your dates.
My IB eligibility qualifications are fairly strict. I have few IB guests. The majority of my renters are new to Airbnb.
People don’t or won’t read or while reading are interrupted and don’t get back to it.
Asking, “how far is this condo from the beach?, tells me they didn’t read the first sentence of the short description.
For the “Didn’t read the first sentence people”, I answer their question & send a message similar to yours, “Every Airbnb listing is different. I want you to be happy. Whether it is my listing or another, I encourage you to read the listing description to make sure you get a rental that meets your needs”. This group RARELY books with me.
My condo has a couple of quirks so to every potential guest including those who IB, I send:
“Thank you for considering my condo. I love it here and think you would too. All Airbnb listings are different. Let’s make sure the following are acceptable to you…(short list)….Let me know if these are acceptable and if you would like to book”.
I’ve had a couple IB’s cancel within their first 48 hours after getting this message. I want happy guests so I’d prefer they cancel if my listing is not a fit for them.
Both of the messages are Airbnb Quick Replies so easy to send.
I just accept. Never had any issues big enough to worry about. I have accepted too fast before, then saw the message about a cat… So I had to call CS and get it cancelled. For the most part I do not look for reasons NOT to host people. Heads in beds.
You are telling your potential guest to resubmit their booking request or have someone else do the booking thus causing them extra effort, when you could easily just “preapprove” or “decline”.
If you only want IB, is that an option you can select somewhere? Maybe put it in the first line of your rental description? “Thank you for considering my listing. All booking requests must be made as Instant Book.”
We don’t have Instant Book turned on (although we did before the pandemic). I’ve had lots of inquiries that turned into bookings. I’ve had lengthy conversations with potential guests before they booked. I’ve had the whole range of no questions to many questions. Neither of those things was any predictor about whether someone would book and whether they’d turn out to be good guests. With just one exception, and not a terrible one at that, we’ve only ever had good guests.
I have a couple of canned replies but never for inquiries. I think it’s because I get a lot of first time Airbnb guests and they have questions. So I’m always careful to read the inquiry and if it’s clear that it’s based on my place, I take the time to answer. Otherwise I think it could be misconstrued and off-putting. @KKC is right, it’s hard to go through ALL the listings and keep them straight. Still, you can use your canned response to an inquiry, which is written just fine, if they ask something you answer in the listing but I wouldn’t ever schedule it so it goes without at least reading the inquiry first.
Not so simple. I trust the IB system’s automatically enforced checks but not much else, so I won’t pre-approve. I can’t decline because that would feel like a slap in the face, and I (or my for-profit business) like you and others like @RiverRock look for reasons to accept, not decline. So if they or their partner can get their ID verified and fix any other IB check fails promptly as I advise them, everyone’s happy. But if, say, they have zero reviews and they are a single guest so there’s no way they can fix it to meet my positive-reviews guest requirement, I do promptly decline.
It is quite unlikely, but not unthinkable, for me to make exceptions to the IB check, so I wouldn’t make IB seem mandatory, not to mention most guests have reading disabilities anyway.
@house_plants Are you saying you just send that canned message to all inquiries without reading the inquiry?
That doesn’t seem like a good idea- in my experience, sometimes guests do ask legitimate questions which aren’t addressed in the listing info. And I’ve had several inquiries turn into bookings.
Nothing wrong with a canned message if they are just asking questions that make it evident they didn’t read the listing info, of course. I would phrase the canned message:
“Thank you for your inquiry. The answers to all the questions you posed can be found by reading thoroughly through the listing information, clicking through wherever you see “Read More” and on the arrows by House Rules, etc. If you still have questions not addressed in the listing ad, I will be happy to answer them.”
You won’t decline but happily waste a guest’s time who wants to book with you, then reads your message about IB. So if can do instant book, invests their time to go through another booking request process.
In the meantime the guest who can’t IB doesn’t know if you will accept their booking (you won’t tell them you only accept IB or IB preferred) and you won’t decline them.
Do you not see how being ignored without explanation is a slap in the face too?
@muddy : yes, I send the canned response to all inquiries without reading their questions. I used to answer their questions but I found that most of them don’t book so it was not worth my time.
But based on this discussion, I may change my strategy. I might answer questions from people who write nicely or have legitimate questions. If they invest their time in asking a good question, I might invest my time as well. If they ask something that’s in my listing, I will send the canned message to keep my response rate high.
I tend to get guests who are readers. Most send an informative, friendly message along with their request or inquiry that makes it evident that they have read the info provided.
So their questions are about things which are more situationally relevant to them specifically. Like letting me know what they plan to do in the area and asking if I think it would be a good idea for them to rent a car, or whether they could easily get to those places by public transport. Or single women seeking reassurance that the 20 minute walk to town and back is safe.
I never mind answering those kinds of questions and guests express appreciation for the reply.