Need help interpreting why I'm getting a booking request when I have IB

Hi All, I’m a new host (couple of guests so far) and I’ve been lurking here and learning so much from everyone’s discussions, and really appreciate this community.

I now have a time-sensitive request for advice! I just got a booking request from someone who says they are a retired couple coming from a nearby country to attend a funeral. Sounds good. The only thing is, I have Instant Book enabled.

This is a therefore a mystery to me: why am I getting a booking request? I can see the guest has 2 previous reviews from hosts, and both say positive things including “Would host again.” But one of the reasons I have for not accepting an instant booking is, of course, anyone who a host said they would not host again. So I am wondering if it’s possible that someone publicly said “would host again” in a review but privately indicated they would not? Or could there be some other reason for the booking request? Is there any way I can figure out why it didn’t come through as an instant book?

The only other time I have gotten booking requests that weren’t instant bookings is when someone wanted to bring a child with them (I had ticked the no children box), and in their booking request, they didn’t say anything about that and so I didn’t realise until after I accepted the booking. (I had to encourage them to decline the booking because in my apartment building I don’t have approval to host children.) So I’m afraid there’s some hidden issue here and I’m just not experienced enough to figure out what it is.

Is it possible that their stay goes against one of your booking settings? For instance, a minimum stay, a maximum stay or, especially, an advanced notice setting? That would be a reason for them to have to request.


Thanks for probing, JJD – no, I can’t see a way that it goes against one of my booking settings. It’s more than my min stay, less than my max stay, and it’s 3 days in advance of the stay (I require 1 day notice)! That’s why it’s so mysterious to me.

Is there a way to see if previous guests have ticked “would not host” or is that something hidden that nobody can see but which figures into Airbnb’s logarithms?

Or is it possible that he sent a request just because that’s his habit (maybe because he had to do that with past bookings) and didn’t realise he could instant-book?

Sorry, no, there’s not a way to see that.

Absolutely. I’ve definitely had guests who do it out of habit or even out of nervousness, they want to make sure that the dates are available.

What about verified ID? Do you require it and does he have it? If he doesn’t then that would also cause the request.

But if both of his reviews say “would host again”, it’s likely very low risk. I understand that some hosts don’t want to admonish a guest in public but there’s no reason to say “would host again” if they wouldn’t.

If you’re really worried about it then you could just write a message and say, “Sounds good, we’d love to host you. Please go ahead and IB”.

But it doesn’t really sound like you need to, though I obviously don’t have all the information either.


I also have IB and oddly enough have gotten several requests in the past two months…One did indicate a child and I say no kids, so that one I understood, the other request I have no idea. So I just chalked it up to them wanting some kind of communication from me before committing.


That’s a fantastic idea! That way, if he’s not eligible to Instant Book, it will be obvious and then I can try more to figure out what’s up

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I host solo travelers in a private room in my home. There have been several female guests who have told me they wouldn’t instant book- they want to get a feel for the host, exchange a message or two to feel comfortable and safe with a place and host before committing.

Just because someone sends a request instead of IBing doesn’t mean it’s suspicious or there are red flags.

FYI, I have never used IB and consider communication to be the best way of vetting guests (never had a bad guest) Nothing wrong with using IB if it works for you, but it is no assurance of getting good guests. Plenty of hosts have gotten IB bookings from guests with 5 star ratings who turned out to be terrible guests.


“Why get booking requests when instant book enabled?” is a common question.

I won’t IB. I want to get to know my host. There seem to be just as many unusual hosts as there are undesirable guests these days.

Having IB enabled does not force people to use it.

Regardless of the Airbnb gurus who promote Airbnb as passive income-it simply isn’t passive. This is hospitality business. Guest relations & communicating with guests is part of the job.

Over the past 8 years of hosting hundreds of guests in multiple listings, I’ve had very few problems. I think it is because I try to get to know my guests.

This summer has been a summer of experiments for me. The one thing I will continue to do is call every guest to:
1.thank them for the rental, 2. Ask them to save my phone number, 3. Encourage them to contact me for any questions or concerns.

One of my guests & I got off to a rocky start. His after checkout personal review was good & stated he & his wife felt like they were renting from a friend. The only way I turned it around was communication & his NY self liked my southern accent. :sunglasses:

I am now off of my soap box for the evening.


Every single time I got a reservation request instead of an instant-book, it was because the guest didn’t meet my instant-booking requirements. Almost every case was not having verified ID.

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Okay, so I’ve sent him the message, “We’d love to host you on those dates. Please go ahead and “instant book” your stay. We also need to know the names and ages of both guests.”

He replied saying, “Thank you - I’m not finding any ‘instant booking’ option…”

I looked at his profile and it says his phone number and email are verified. So from I’m reading here, it sounds like the only 2 options for why he can’t instant book is either:

  1. A previous host said they wouldn’t host again (possible but not likely given he has 2 reviews from people saying they would host again), or
  2. Because he doesn’t have his identity documents verified.

I’m guessing most likely the latter. Is that a red flag? He sent me the names and ages of both guests and they’re both elderly, so no infants to worry about. Given that he has 2 reviews I am assuming (hoping?) he must be legit. I just can’t decide whether I should make him confirm his identity before booking or if that’s asking too much.

Another thing about star ratings and "Would not host again’- it is very subjective- behavior that might be objectionable to one host might not be to another, and it also depends on the nature of the listing. A guest in an entire house listing who leaves the place clean and undamaged might get a 5 star rating, but might be a crummy housemate in a homeshare.

Ratings are just another tool in the vetting toolbox, but they don’t really come with explanations. Written reviews at least give real info as long as the reviewer is being honest.

While lots of us older folks are tech savvy, some of us may not be. He might just be having trouble navigating the site.

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Thanks, that’s helpful!

Hi Brian, thanks! Do you accept reservations without the verified ID requirement? I feel like it’s important to know the actual identity of a guest, and I know I could ask them to show their passports on arrival, but I don’t like the idea of pressing them for that on the spot.

Yes I do think this could happen, based on my experience.

When I first started I failed to examine requests that flunked IB carefully enough. I now tick all the boxes available as a condition of IB. Not just reviews but also ID on file and photo and they have to send me a message via the platform. That way I know for sure they know how to send me a message.

I’m working with someone tonight who could not use IB. Tried to book without telling me she was bringing 2 dogs plus another person. She’s not communicating well at all and she will probably disappear, which is fine with me.

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How frustrating – it must make you wonder if she is just clueless to the fact that this is info someone would want to know, if she really thinks that 2 dogs aren’t an issue for hosts (I myself adore dogs but our apartment’s owners corporation doesn’t allow them so I legally can’t accept a guest with dogs), or if she’s being deliberately deceptive.

this seems the most plausible reason. they just want to make contact with the host.

once he makes the booking won’t he be forced to verify his ID (assuming you have that requirement checked), then you’ll know if that was the reason.

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Not likely, if I understand you correctly, as these 2 scenarios look very different on AirBnB to the host.

If the prospective guest sends a general message, it’s called an inquiry. The host will be prodded to make an offer to book (at least I get those messages), but there is no obligation for the host to do anything. I’ve had people ask if we can guarantee snow in January, for example (we can’t).

However if the prospective guest tries to Instant Book for specific dates and they are refused, I as host must make a decision within 24 hours or I will get dinged. I must either accept or decline.

So in this second case is when I try to figure out why the guest was blocked from Instant Book. The toughest cases are when all the ducks seem to be in a row, and yet Instant Book has refused to book them.

A couple weeks ago I had a case where the guest reviews were glowing until I got rather deep into the review list. Then I found two negative host reviews including one where the host explained a lot of detail and then said “would not host again.” This guest travels a lot.

I asked the prospective guest about these 2 reviews. She was of course very defensive in tone but did not offer any defense of substance–she didn’t accuse the hosts of lying or exaggerating, for example. She just kept asking me to accept her booking.

In the end I declined. We have tons of great hotels around here, for less than what I charge.

Hmm, that’s a good question. No verified ID seems to be the reason why he can’t book right now, and why he sent a booking request instead (because when I then asked him to instant book he said he couldn’t see an option, and on his profile it looks like his e-mail and phone number are verified but not his ID). I assume that if, therefore, I approved his request, he would be allowed to book without verified ID. I can see he has stayed at 2 other places without verified ID (at least, he has 2 reviews under this profile) so it appears to not be an issue for other hosts.

I’m curious to know how other hosts feel about guests whose ID hasn’t been verified.
It seems logical to me that hosts would want to be sure of the ID of guests. But maybe that’s something I don’t need to know… I’m not sure if it would matter to insurance if I needed to file a claim or something?

usually the booking is approved and then they have to verify their ID. airbnb gets them to commit to the booking first. and yes, it’s possible previous hosts didn’t need ID to be verified.
I tell guests who question this that it’s a new policy and ABB now require all guests to be verified.

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I don’t accept guests without ID verified by AirBnB. My cottage has self check in so I don’t have the opportunity to see ID when the guest arrives.