Reply to instabook guests

Are you still working on this project I’d like to try the bot to automatically reply to guests after they booked

You need @smartbnb.io … you can sign up on his website though note it’s a paid service. Lots of hosts on here use it and I believe it’s meant to be very good.

Thanks @Zandra for the kind words :wink:

And welcome @Simone_Nina to Smartbnb, since I believe you have already joined. Let me know if you have any questions!

Like @Zandra, I’ve read great things about @smartbnb.io’s services. But I like to reply personally to instant book guests. The reason for this is that I don’t want them to think that they are getting a canned, impersonal response.

For example, I woke up this morning to an IB from a couple who are spending their honeymoon here. To me, it would have seemed weird to receive an automated message - I wanted to refer to their honeymoon and say what a good choice they had made in selecting our rental. I also like to say ‘Hi [guest’s name]’ rather than a more impersonal reply. I think it gets the stay off to a good start as it starts a more personal relationship between host and guest.

Just my opinion! :slight_smile:

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You might want to thank your guests for their great choice whatever the cause of the trip :wink:

Now, Smartbnb was designed by a live-in Airbnb host. I am the first in line if things get awkward with my guests, so I did develop all the required tools to make sure that the automatic messages will be as personal as the message I would have sent.

  1. It is of course possible to personnalise messages with the guest’s first name, family name, city of origin, check-in/check-out date and a ton of “short codes” that will be replaced by actual variables. For example, you can ask your guests to confirm their phone number, by quoting the phone number.

  2. Smartbnb can also adapt the messages to your guest’s profile, reservation, listing. (For example, for a guest with no reviews, educate them on Airbnb and ask them questions, and vice versa for a guest with more reviews).

The result, by experience, is that guests do thank the hosts for their personal and quick reply.

Then the host wakes up!

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All sounds like a bit of a faff to me @smartbnb.io. to sign up for another service to do this, when I can do it myself quickly and easily.

I have a standard guest reply which I just edit when I receive a booking, depending on the circumstances.

I absolutely appreciate this! By definition, automation is fantastic for busy people, who do not have the time to automate :grinning:! If it takes hours, it hardly makes any sense.

Which is why it actually comes pre-configured, with tested templates, with check-in instructions generated from your listing’s details. Airbnb saved messages are also integrated to help.

I have absolutely no problem at all with not automating. Sometimes, I get the feeling I sell fighter jets; doesn’t make sense if you are okay with a bike. The problem is most of my customers have a large number of inquiries, or little time to manage them. The only way for them to make it work is to shorten the communication to just a few impersonal messages. I believe this frustrates everyone, and that is when a smart automation can do a better job.

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I always like to. Often, especially if it’s a stay of more than a couple of days, the guest is shelling out a lot of money - and buyer’s remorse is a real thing. We used to call it ‘consolidating the sale’ - ensuring the customer that they had made the right decision. When you’re selling a high-ticket item, it’s well worth taking a few minutes to ensure the customer that they won’t regret their purchase.

Love that! :slight_smile:

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I don’t use the automated replies but if I had a large number of international bookings/bookings at odd hours or if I was so busy that I frequently didn’t get a chance to answer right away (for example if I were frequently at events where I couldn’t have my phone on like movies, plane flights, in court, teaching class) I would use it. I like to send a response right away.

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I love how diplomatic and well mannered Smartbnb is! I’m talking about Pierre, :heart_eyes:, not his software, although that also seems to be the same! :blush:

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I use the ability to instantly respond to inquiries via @smartbnb.io. I state clearly in my message that this is an automated message and that a more personal message will follow shortly. I do not use the instant book response option since that is not a metric that AirBNB uses to evaluate us as hosts. Instead, I send a personal message which addresses the message from the guest regarding their reservation. I have yet to get an instant book without a message to me.

I do use the @smartbnb.io message storing system to copy/paste from, using my saved messages as a template when I do respond. The saved messages have hints to me to remember to ask about preferences such as how many beds, names of other in the group etc. I have found the daily report that I receive each morning to be invaluable.

I know that there are more powerful options that this application gives me, but I have not yet implemented all of them. I fully understand the possibilities and limitation of technology and am cautious about implementing too much automation.

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I think the automatic reply funtion is not very good.

Almost every instant book we get has one or more questions in their first message.
Replying with a generic message, not replying to the questions already shows the guest you do not care about them.

Better replay a bit later, and send a real reply, than an automated one.

The point of automating is to avoid generic messages.

Automatic messages are, by their very definition, not generic, since you can personnalise and adapt the message and making it unique to that guest.

With some artificial intelligence features like the ones in place on Smartbnb, you can also detect the most frequent questions and reply right away.

Automating booking confirmations confirms that there is a booking, and might include some special instructions and questions already, that you would ask to every guest anyway (also depending on their own profile). This is the point of automation: manage the routine so that you can focus on the special.

My data, from +4200 properties, show that guests appreciate a fast answer, 100% of the time. If they had a special question that is not managed by the system, they might, in less than 20% of cases, reply to that message “Thanks for that prompt reply” or something to that effect, and reiterate that question, no big deal.

When I first read this conversation a few months ago, I thought, I will NEVER use automated messages. But, since it was free to try out, I’ve been trying it out for the past few days and I’ve been really impressed by how well it does.

You can test various scenarios, by typing in a sample question from a guest and see what it spits out. I typed in, “is there a park nearby?” The automated message said it didn’t have a response for that. Then I typed in a question with a typo, “is there a parking nearby?” and it spit out my response about our parking! That was pretty impressive.

Like @smtucker, I have also included a note about it being an automated message in some of the replies. And because you can write tailored responses for specific types of messages it actually ends up feeling a lot more personal than I thought it would.

Our template for new inquiries looks like this:

Hi %guest_first_name%!

Thanks so much for your inquiry about our place for your trip to New York!

%answers%

This is an automated message. One of us will read this soon and if it didn’t answer any questions you asked, we’ll get back to you quickly with a personal reply!

Thank you,
Jon

And the way that played out today, went like this:

Guest writes:
Hi. My girlfriend and I are planning to ride our motorcycles to visit NYC. We love to travel on our bikes. I am curious of the parking arrangements at your place. We would use public transport while there. So is there a safe place to park for three days?
Thank you
Rob

Auto-Response:

Hi Rob!

Thanks so much for your inquiry about our place for your trip to New York!

There is no street parking here for visitors. But there’s a very good indoor parking garage near us that’s about a 7-minute walk from here. It costs $0.50 an hour - or $12 a day. You pay in advance, and there’s an app you can use to pay as well, so you never have to go back to the garage to pay.

When you first arrive, you can park right in front of our building for a few minutes to unload your things and then you can take your car to the garage.

This is an automated message. One of us will read this soon and if it didn’t answer any questions you asked, we’ll get back to you quickly with a personal reply!

Thank you,
Jon

In this case, I read his message 15 minutes after he wrote it. But the auto reply went out about 30 seconds after he wrote it. Although it wasn’t a personal message, it was really close to what I would have written if I had responded manually. And he had his answer within 30 seconds. If he was ready to make a decision to book right then and there, he would have had the information he needed to makes his decision. Sometimes it can take me a little more than an hour to respond and in that time, they might have moved on and found another place with a host who answered sooner and booked there instead because they got an answer there faster.

So, I feel like so far, it has actually a valuable service.

I think it can be improved though. There are a lot of common questions that aren’t available right now for pre-programming. Like, the one we get all the time that annoys me to death, which is, “Is your place available on these dates?” Yes! It is! Or you wouldn’t have been able to select those dates!! That could easily be automated, but right now it’s not an option. It would be nice as well if somehow we could program specific questions to us and write a response for those.

But it’s a great start, and I really like that our prospects are getting instant replies - even if it just tells them they may have to wait a little longer to hear from one of us.

Oh! And here’s something that just happened while I’m sitting here. A couple of days ago I set it up to send a message to all guests 3 days before check-in. That information basically tells them how to get to our place from all the airports. This guest just wrote in as I’m writing this and she said, “I don’t know how to get to your place”. I sighed in frustration, as I knew she had been sent this information yesterday (and it was already available to her under the View Itinerary button from the time she made the reservation). Then, she wrote right back and said, “I just saw you sent us that already! That is wonderful!! Will read it thoroughly once we touch down at the airport.” So now, I can either write her back or just go to bed. I think she was well enough taken care of via automation - that I’ll just go to bed!

Anyway, great job Pierre - especially on the Ai!

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I have replied to you about the “is the listing available” 3 days ago. Basically, every guest that will send an inquiry will be happy to read that the listing is available. Which is why I am not sure there is any value in creating a new question for that case.

As for the rest of your suggestions, stay tuned :slight_smile:

Every time someone asks about bringing their dog I get an email telling me a guest has a question about pets. So far I’ve always seen/heard the notification from Airbnb and I don’t have automated responses but it’s easy to see what a valuable tool it is.

I agree that @smartbnb.io has done a fabulous job.

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Thanks Pierre. I’m a little confused though, when you say every guest that will send an inquiry will be happy to read that the listing is available.

I know they should know that by the fact Airbnb let them select the dates on the calendar, but we get that question probably once every week or two. Does anybody else ever get that question? We got it just a few days ago in fact. They ask something like, “is your place available for our dates?” Or, they actually write out the dates. And it just gets annoying writing out the answer every time. Since it’s a pretty consistent repeat question, it would be great to have an automatic response for it. If nobody else ever gets that question though, I understand.

By the way, in just the week or so that we’ve tested this out, we’ve discovered one big thing that we never knew!! We never used to send an email to the guests before they arrived or before they departed. All the information they needed was already on Air. So, we figured it would just be redundant. But using your system in just this last week, we’ve emailed an “information pack” to, two or three newly arriving guests. And ALL of them mentioned it when they got here and said how appreciative they were for it!!

All we did was copy the information that was already on Air under their View Itinerary button, about getting to our place from the airports. But it’s been a huge hit so far!

And we’ve used your system to send out a departing email 18 hours before they leave, and both guests wrote us back and told us how helpful that information was!

So, thank you so much for helping us to become better hosts, in ways we didn’t even know people cared about!

@smartbnb.io - Pierre, one thing that would be amazing if you guys did, would be to integrate an electronic House Guide, we could send to our guests a few days before they arrive. Much like the coral.life guide. I really like that one, except it seems they’ve stopped developing and supporting it and it doesn’t connect to our Air accounts so we have to send the guides manually.

Anyway, just thought I’d put that out there. That’s the only thing we’re still doing manually now.

@smartbnb.io I had mentioned that it would be really helpful if we could automate a message for people who ask if the dates they want to book are available, since so many people ask that.

Today, we had a prospective guest from France ask that question at 8:00 a.m. her time, but 2:00 a.m. our time, while we were asleep.

Smartbnb sent our generic “first inquiry” response, but it didn’t address her question about our availability for her dates.

When we woke up six hours later, since she didn’t get an answer, she had already booked somewhere else. So, we actually lost this reservation because we weren’t able to get back to her with an answer to that common question.

Here’s the message we got from the guest:

"Hi, I’ m Floriane (French). I travel with my daughter ****. I’ m looking for an accomodation for one week near NYC. I would like to be quiet but not far from the center. we will arrive on the october 14th. Your accommodation seems to match what I’m looking for. I am very interested. is it still available from the 17th of October?
Thank you for your answer"

It would have been so easy to send an automated message that said, ‘If Airbnb lets you select the dates, then they are available. So, yes, the dates are still available and we’d love to have you stay with us.’

As it was, she received our automated message that thanked her for her inquiry - but it was unable to answer this frequent question.

So, three hours later, we got this message:

Update from Airbnb: Floriane no longer needs accommodations for these dates.

We would have made $614 on that reservation.

Just to add another example from my airbnb inbox:

Alex,

PLEASE IGNORE DATES GIVEN ABOVE. I COULD NOT YET ENTER THE REAL DATES (GIVEN BELOW) BUT HAD TO ENTER SOMETHING TO SEND THE MESSAGE.

My wife and I will be in Costa Rica April/May 2018 and would very much like to visit Tortuguero to see the wildlife. We would like to check in on 26th April and check out on 29th April. Do you have availability then?

Now in this case I had the listing limited to 6 months, which explained why it was not avaible.

Another one I do get quite a lot are those looking for 1 night whenwe have a 2 night minimum.

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