This week I turned on Instant book for three of my listings. I was always hesitant to use instant book because I liked the added sense of security of getting the chance to weed out undesirable guests at the request to book stage. When a guest wants to stay in your listing on airbnb they have to request to book by sending you a message introducing themselves. Only if the host is satisfied with the information the guest has provided do they release pre-approval for the guest to make payment and secure the booking. If you turn on Instant book guests can book without going through the request to book stage and obtain pre-approval.
Why I was hesitant to use Instant Book
I always use the request to book stage of the airbnb booking process to ask the prospective guest why they are coming to London and to tell me a bit about themselves. This is usually enough to help me decide if this person will be ok to stay at my place. Ideally a guest will reply back something like “I have come to visit London to do some sightseeing and visit the many galleries and museums.” For me this type of guest is the best, they wake up in the mooring, get dressed, go out, and don’t come back until late. Guests like this I hardly see the entire duration of their stay. They don’t hang around the house watching TV and snacking.
Two reasons to use Instant Book
I was willing to give instant book a try for two reasons. The first being that you can choose to only allow guests who have a positive rating to be able to book using Instant Book. For new users of airbnb and those guests who have a less than positive rating they will still need to get pre-approval from the request to book stage as before (guests are also required to have a profile picture to use Instant Book). Guests who have a probative rating presumably know how the airbnb model works and know how to behave in someone else’s house. The second reason I was happy to give Instant Book a try is when a guest tries to book you can write a welcome message. I used the welcome message to say hello of course but also mentioned in a clear way that “there is no use of the kitchen with this booking. Bedroom and bathroom only.” Getting my house rules clear at this stage is crucial to me as so many guests don’t read the listing description.
Why did I decide to give Instant Book a try?
I recently spoke to a friend who was planning his overseas trip and asked him if he was using airbnb for his accommodation. He said no he wasn’t because you have to send a message to the host and you have no idea how long it will take them to reply. To him the whole request to book stage of the process was a potential big waste of time and he preferred to just book his accommodation without this extra hassle even if it cost him a more money. I realised then that perhaps I was missing out on perfectly good guests who just wanted to book their accommodation and not waste time sending messages back and forth.
A few hours after I turned on Instant Book I had my first airbnb instant booking. The guest has a positive review from one previous trip. I quickly sent him a message saying we are looking forward to having him stay at our place and if he needs any help finding the house to let me know. He sent a nice reply saying he was also looking forward to his stay. I guess Instant Book is easy if you try…