I just posted the following to https://twitter.com/AirbnbHelp:
Hi. I have a question about Instant Book. In my account, at https://www.airbnb.co.in/manage-listing/8235275/how-guests-book …, it is written: “Who can book instantly - Guests who meet Airbnb’s requirements, and also have: * Provided a government-issued ID * An average star rating of at least 4.5 out of 5 stars, including cleanliness and communication”. I have two questions: a) what is the minimum number of reviews required for this star rating to exist? No indication is given. Or, to put it another way, would one review suffice to obtain this star rating? b) What’s to stop this criteria from quietly disappearing from my listing? Based on comparison with fellow hosts, it does not appear in all hosts’s listings. If Airbnb is serious about this, it should appear in their permanent online documentation.
I’ll update as and when I get replies. One question - how many people are seeing the same language appear in their listings? If you see it, ping this thread, please. Thanks.
UPDATE: Actually, why doesn’t everyone post screenshots of what they see? And if an identical version has already appeared, just say: what so-and-so has. There seem to be a few variations floating around. Here is mine:
UPDATE 2: Airbnb’s reply
Hello Faheem, thanks for contacting us. We need to have from 3 to 5 reviews in order to create a guest star rating. To answer your question, a single review is not enough to have the mentioned average. For all hosts that are entitled to activate Instant Booking, we give the option to select the reservation requirements. Please, let us know if you have further questions.
Attentive readers will notice that they answered my first question but not the second. I’m debating whether I should press them on the matter. I was debating whether to point Airbnb to this thread. I think on balance better not - I think it’s better if this forum doesn’t attract official attention. Thoughts?
UPDATE 3: I replied:
Hi, thanks for the reply. First, I’m not unclear about the 3 to 5 thing. Is the minimum 3, or 4 or 5? Second, you didn’t answer my second question. It seems from discussion on forums, that the same language does not appear on all hosts listings. But I think it should. So presumably this criteria applies to me for as long as it is in my account, and the criteria that other hosts have on their acount applies to them. This is not a good way to do things. I think clear and uniform criteria should be applied for all Airbnb hosts. Then we would know where we were. Since it’s clear that Airbnb wants to encourage IB, it’s in its interest to make these criteria as clear and uniform as possible.
UPDATE 4: Airbnb replied via Twitter:
Thanks for your message, Faheem, and for giving us the chance to clarify this for you. The minimum review amount is 3 because, if a guest reaches 5 stars in the first 3 reviews, the requested minimum average rate is already reached. After 5 reviews, we will create anyway a review rate for guest. We reserve the right to entitle hosts to enable instant book based on reviews and response rate, this is why some hosts are not having this option. We really appreciate the feedback you provided and we’ll make sure to pass it on our dedicated department for it to be evaluated. We’re here if you have further questions.
This is mildly helpful. So it sounds like Airbnb is deliberately giving different hosts different criteria. Which I suppose they are entitled to do. But they don’t have any explicit rationale for doing so. And the listed SH criteria could presumably change any time.
I’m not sure if enabling this instant book option would make any difference to me. Any guest that had 3 or more highly rated reviews I’d probably take without a second thought. Of course, if Airbnb was to change the SH criteria without telling me (as they probably would), that would be bad for me. Opinions?