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I noticed when I was searching as a client in Boston that Instant Book was turned on by default. I noticed it. Do guests who aren’t paying attention notice? Who knows? The note (when I hovered over it) was something to the tune of “There are so many search results that we turned on instant book”. Unfortunately, I turned it off before I thought to take a screenshot.
I don’t know if this is affecting only densely populated areas or not. I don’t like it. I personally have instant book turned off because I want anyone booking with me to know they must communicate first. That could mean I’m missing out on people when Airbnb turns on this function for guests without permission. They have been pushing Instant Book HARD and I think it’s only a matter of time before they make it a requirement in some way – either by forcing it or making every default search for only instant books (unless guests turn it off).