Im a host in Chicago - been hosting on air and VRBO since '17. I’m becoming less enamored of instant booking but concerned about disabling the IB feature. Does instant booking really matter as far as visibility on the two platforms is concerned? Thoughts & comments welcome.
Yes, you will suffer in the rankings.
I disappeared completely back when the push started for IB. As soon as I toggled it, I was back on the map.
@Alanmelsky I have never used IB since I started hosting. It does mean that I don’t appear high in search rankings in general, although that goes up and down. When I get a lot of bookings in a short period of time, my ranking goes up and some guests said it came up first or at least close to the top when entering their filters.
And even when my ranking was quite low, enough guests for my liking managed to find it.
For me, as a home share host who isn’t dependent on the income and isn’t aiming for full occupancy, being able to communicate with guests before they book is a no-brainer and I have never had a bad guest, a bad review, any damages or any guest complaining in order to get a refund.
I imagine competition is fierce in Chicago, but if you are considering turning off IB because you’re getting lousy guests and having to give refunds or rectify damages, the loss of search placement might be offset by getting better guests due to pre-booking communication.
In any case, deciding to turn IB on or off isn’t some irreversible decision that will affect the rest of your hosting career. You can turn it off for a few weeks and see what the result is and switch it back on if you want to.
Not only that but there are some of us who search first for places with instant book. I always search first for places with IB and only open up to Request to book if I can’t find anything available with IB on. The two times (of about 14) that I’ve requested to book, once the person took all day to decline me and the other took 23.5 hours to accept. I later ended up canceling that booking due to non communication from the host.
Bummer. I always answer booking requests and inquiries as soon as I get the alert as long as it comes in at a reasonable hour.
But one thing I can tell you is that the Airbnb alert system often lags a lot. I often get alerts of guest messages and requests at 3 AM, which I could understand if the guest was in a vastly different time zone, but that isn’t the case. I got an alert at 3 AM for a request from a guest who was in a time zone two hours earlier than mine and in the morning I saw she had sent the request at 9 PM my time. So it took 6 hours to receive the alert.
Of course I don’t get up and answer messages at 3AM, and the guest would have been asleep herself, anyway.
So it’s not always that the host is being lax about answering.
Thank you for your knowledgeable and thoughtful reply. I may test the waters and turn it off for a while
Thanks, it’s the map feature I’m most concerned about. Many of my guests use the map to locate hosts near their children/grandchildren, particularly after being unable to travel most of 2020.
Although I understand that, it’s also not my problem. I want to book in the way that’s easiest for me.
There is almost always a suitable listing that is IB. Sure, I could be missing out but I’ll never know the difference.
thanks again, I appreciate your comments. I just have a strong gut feeling about reading potential guests’ inquiries. I can usually tell immediately if the booking will be good. I own a multi-family property and live in the building - A polite inquiry gives me a sense of comfort in the people I’m inviting to stay.
You can always turn off instant book and see what happens. If you normally get steady bookings you should be able to tell right away if it’s having a negative effect on your business.
I’ve not yet travelled as a guest, but when I do, I would be the opposite. I would never IB a place, I would want to get a feel for the host before committing. To each his own.
To answer your original question, IB is really the primary factor in search ranking. Nothing else can get you near the top. There are 3.5 star listings that show up above non-IB Superhost listings that have hundreds of 5 star reviews.
I am going to a place next week that the host took 23.75 hours to accept my reservation. There is that, and some iffy reviews. But the view… It will be fine I tell myself…
something is happening …probably another delightful glitch on Airbnb. I have IB on - however not showing when I do a private search on my listings…
I would never stay with that host. It wouldn’t get past my extensive filters LOL. But as Muddy says
It will be fine…
I will of course report any issues here!
I did instant for a while, but felt uncomfortable not having any discretion as my listing’s in my home so took myself off it. I didn’t notice any drop in bookings
My second year of hosting, an Airbnb tech glitch caused me to stop receiving alerts. When I checked my Airbnb account, I found I had a reservation request from 25 hours earlier and was mortified. I messaged the guest right away, apologizing and explaining what had happened and she luckily went on to book.
It took Airbnb a month to get my text alerts back up and running and I had to check my messages 3-4 times a day to make sure I wasn’t missing any.
Of course Airbnb dinged my response rate for that 25 hour missed response, even though it was entirely due to their glitchy tech.