If you’re considering using the Instant Booking feature on Airbnb, you may have seen some negative reviews out there: “I don't like IB either. It worked okay for me for quite some time, but lately I seem to be getting more and more unsuitable guests (e.g. people who haven't understood the listing) wanting to book.”*
However, you’ll find positive testimonials as well: “I’ve hosted over 300 guests at two properties over the last 5 years. I normally allow guests to book ‘instantly’ as it saves me time.”**
This may have you feeling lost on whether you should activate Instant Book, but the answer isn’t always straightforward. There are factors you need to take into account when deciding if it’s right for you, such as the type of property you run and how long you’ve been hosting.
We’re here to help you make that decision and ensure you get the most out of Instant Book if you choose to activate it. This article covers the following topics:
- What Airbnb Instant Book is and how it works
- The advantages and disadvantages of Instant Book for hosts
- 6 ways to make Instant Book work better for you
- How to turn Instant Book on and off
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What is Airbnb Instant Book?
Instant Book is a setting on Airbnb that lets guests make a reservation without having to wait for confirmation from the host. There’s no additional fee for guests or hosts, and it can be a good way for property managers to take some manual tasks off their plate.
For guests, it’s convenient because they don’t have to wait around for a response from a host—they know their booking is confirmed immediately.
How does Airbnb Instant Book work?
Airbnb Instant Book is very straightforward. As a host, you simply toggle on the Instant Book option in the Booking settings area of your listing. This means you won’t have to manually confirm a guest’s reservation—all reservation requests are automatically approved when you use Instant Book (provided the guest meets all your pre-determined requirements).
Advantages of Airbnb Instant Book for hosts
Plenty of Airbnb hosts swear by Instant Book, and it does have a number of advantages, especially for busy property managers. Take a look at the benefits of letting guests book your properties instantly.
Boosts your Airbnb ranking
In Airbnb’s words, “listings that can be booked instantly may rank higher in search results because responses are automatic and the booking is confirmed without the host needing to affirmatively accept the request.”
Response rate is such an important factor in determining where your listing ranks on Airbnb. So activating Instant Book can take the stress off of having to constantly check your phone for messages from potential guests to ensure they’re answered quickly and your listing ranks well.
Helps you bring in more bookings
Airbnb also affirms that “travelers prefer to use Instant Book because they can book quickly, skip the wait time for hosts to respond, and avoid possibly being rejected.” In fact, guests can toggle an Instant Book preference when setting their search filters, meaning only listings with Instant Book activated will show up in their search results.
When you combine this preference with the fact that activating Instant Book can directly impact your ability to show in Airbnb’s search results, it’s a simple way to boost your occupancy rates.
Takes manual tasks out of your day
The convenience of Instant Book can be a big draw if you oversee numerous properties or are trying to grow your portfolio. While approving or rejecting bookings may not seem like that much work, it can quickly add up if you’re getting multiple booking requests across various properties each day.
By removing this manual task from your workload, you have more time to focus on bigger-picture efforts, like finding ways to enhance the guest experience or marketing your services to new homeowners.
Disadvantages of Airbnb Instant Book for hosts
Instant Book isn’t for everyone, and some hosts experience issues when they activate this setting. For example, if your space has special features or challenges, or you only offer longer stays, Instant Book may not be right for you. We explain some of these downsides below.
Limited opportunity to manually vet guests
While you are able to set guest requirements when customizing your Instant Book settings, some hosts prefer to do their own research into potential guests before deciding whether to approve their booking request.
Doing a little background research on guests can be especially important if they’re booking for an extended stay or are renting a room in your house. Since Instant Book means you can’t manually vet guests before they’re booking is confirmed, some hosts prefer to leave this setting off.
Potential misunderstandings with guests
While you may outline all your house rules and property characteristics clearly in your listing, guests sometimes skim or miss important details before they make their reservation. If the misunderstanding isn’t addressed before a guest checks in, that could mean they end up breaking your house rules or aren’t completely satisfied with their stay.
But when you turn Instant Book off, you always have a chance to reach out to guests to make sure your property is the right fit for them before confirming their reservation.
If a guest that’s not a great fit for your property does book a stay, or if you have a bad feeling about a guest who made their reservation via Instant Book, you may be left having to cancel the booking. Since your number of cancellations directly impacts Superhost status and your ranking in Airbnb search results, this could affect your booking rates.
You may also see more cancellations from guests because they made their reservation without asking you important questions first, like about parking or access details.
6 steps to make Instant Book work better for you
While it’s not for everyone, Instant Book can offer great benefits to hosts and property managers, helping you increase booking rates while automating your Airbnb business. These six tips will help you make the most of Instant Book and avoid any potential problems.
1. Outline your house rules in your listing
Since Instant Book doesn’t give you the chance to directly communicate with guests before they make their reservation, clearly outline your most important house rules or guidelines in your listing to help them understand whether the property is a good fit for them.
For example, you could highlight a no-pet policy or emphasize the importance of keeping the noise down after a certain time. Take a look at how one host approaches this in their Instant Book listing:
2. Establish a minimum and maximum stay
While you may appreciate extended stays, you might not be looking to host the same person for three months. And one-night bookings can end up being more of a hassle than what they’re worth, considering the time and resources required for turnovers.
That’s why setting minimum and maximum stay requirements is essential to having a positive Instant Book experience as a host. If you don’t set a limit, Airbnb automatically sets a 31-night maximum, which may be longer than you’re willing to host the same guest for.
3. Set additional requirements for guests
On top of maximum and minimum stays, you can set other requirements to make sure you’re getting respectful guests who are a right fit for your property and services. This includes requiring them to have a good track record, as well as having them respond to a preset message when making their reservation.
For example, this host requires all potential guests to have a verified government ID and no negative reviews (though note that it’s best to avoid negative assumptions in your messaging as this can put off perfectly good guests):
Additionally, you can set a minimum advance notice to prevent same-day and last-minute bookings. This cut-off time means you can require guests to book up to a week in advance of their stay, giving you time to prepare the property and schedule turnovers accordingly.
4. Require a damage deposit
What discourages many hosts from turning on Instant Book is the fact that they can’t do their own research into potential guests before a booking is made. This gives you the opportunity to look at past reviews and gauge whether or not the potential guest will respect your property and follow your rules.
To mitigate this concern, you can require guests to pay a security deposit which will protect you in case they cause any damages.
Just know that if there is an issue, you’ll probably have to request your damage deposit through Airbnb’s Resolution Center—you can’t do so outside the platform.
5. Communicate effectively with guests
Effective guest communication is important no matter what type of booking process you use, but it becomes especially crucial when you use Instant Book. Since you won’t be having a conversation with your Airbnb guests before they make their reservation, clear and proactive communication is key.
As we mentioned, you can require guests to respond to a preset message when making their Instant Book reservation, but you can also send a message to them as soon as they make their booking, in the days leading up to their stay, and on the morning of their check-in.
This helps you avoid any miscommunication issues, and ensures guests understand your house rules and the nuances of your property. This also prevents you from being bombarded by guest questions during their stay.
6. Provide a welcome book
In addition to clearly and proactively communicating with your Instant Book guests, providing them with a welcome book will help them have a smoother stay while minimizing your workload.
Additionally, you can list your house rules here, making sure your guests understand what’s allowed at your property and what isn’t. While this is convenient for all hosts, it’s especially useful for hosts who use Instant Book, as they can’t personally inform guests of these guidelines before a booking is made.
To give your guests a stay that exceeds their expectations (and secure that 5-star review), include curated local recommendations in your welcome book, from the best place to catch the sunset to your favorite spot for an evening meal.
Using Breezeway to manage instant bookings
Airbnb Instant Book, though not right for everyone, can be your ticket to more bookings while taking repetitive tasks off your plate. If you do choose to activate it, follow the six steps we outlined above to ensure it works for you and not against you.
To get the best results from Instant Book, we recommend using Breezeway’s Airbnb management software to communicate with your guests and share your house rules. That way, you can ensure your guests have all the information they need without having to call or send you multiple messages throughout their stay.
Plus, Breezeway is an official Airbnb partner, integrating seamlessly with the booking platform. This means you can connect your Airbnb reservation info with Breezeway, helping you save even more time. For example, Breezeway automatically notifies your cleaners about new reservations or changes to existing reservations, minimizing manual scheduling tasks that eat up your day.
From turnover scheduling to guest communication, Breezeway makes running an Airbnb business simpler, less stressful, and more scalable.
Want to find more ways to automate your short-term rental business?