What Is Instant Book on Airbnb and How to Use It Effectively

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Find out what is Instant Book on Airbnb and how can hosts effectively use it. Get some tips on screening the potential guests from instant bookings and more.

If you’ve seen Instant Book on Airbnb, you know that it’s a feature that many hosts are already using. Airbnb introduced this option in order to improve user experience on its platform. Here is what you should know about what is Instant Book on Airbnb and how it works for hosts.

What Is Instant Book on Airbnb?

Instant Book is an option that an Airbnb host can turn on for their listings to allow guests who meet their requirements to automatically book their space. Instant Book listings don’t need to be approved by the host before guests can book them. Instead, guests can simply enter their travel dates and proceed directly to discussing plans for check-in with the host.

Instant Book on Airbnb is presented by the platform as a function that can help to reduce the hassle of the booking process for guests while increasing the number of reservations for hosts: a win-win situation. However, it is a highly debated feature that some Airbnb hosts feel is not in their best interest.

What Are Hosts Saying About Instant Book on Airbnb?

Instant book on Airbnb

Right now, whether a host should use Instant Book on Airbnb or not really depends on the individual host’s preferences. In fact, hosts have shared both reasons for and against using Instant Book on Airbnb on the popular AirHostsForum.com website:

“I’m a single woman and I’ve hosted well over 200 people over the last almost 3 years. I’ve had IB [Instant Book] most of that time and I haven’t had any problems. You can require the government ID option for on Airbnb. You can also check their ID when they arrive at your rental. As for rules, they have to say they have read them and agree to them. Airbnb has no way to force them to follow them. You have to try to police them.” – K9KarmaCasa

“I personally don’t use Instant Book on Airbnb and it does not affect my bookings rating but I don’t have a private guest entrance and want to know exactly who is coming, when and to ensure they guests needs are what I can meet.” – Emily

As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons why hosts are for or against Instant Book.

Should You Use Instant Book on Airbnb As a Host?

If you’re still trying to decide if using Instant Book is right for your business, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Using Instant Book on Airbnb

  • Maximizes your bookings. If you want to get bookings during a low season, Instant Book on Airbnb can help you land more reservations.
  • Improves your Airbnb ranking. Already your listing is automatically lowered in Airbnb’s rankings when you don’t have Instant Book turned. So, for your listing to appear at the top of Airbnb’s results you have to use Instant Book.
  • Getting more bookings means more reviews. When you have Instant Book turned on, you’ll be able to receive more reviews and achieve Airbnb Superhost status much faster.

Cons of Using Instant Book

  • Increased cancellations. With Instant Book on Airbnb turned on, guests have a tendency to book first and then go over the details with the host after the reservation has been made. Having guests fail to read the rules could lead to increased cancellations, as well as, a loss of availability for your unit.
  • Hosts don’t get to choose who exactly books. Many hosts prefer to vet their guests before they allow them to stay in their homes and they feel that Instant Book strips them of this right.

If you are still cautious about using this feature, you have some options for dealing with guests.

Dealing with Instant Book Guests

Tip 1. Set up a dialogue.

First, if your guest appears to be untrustworthy, try communicating with him/her. You will be able to define the guest you are dealing with in a process of communication. For example, you can ask at what time the guest arrives, if he checked the house rules and if there are any special requirements.

Tip 2. Set at least 1-day notice for your instant bookings

One option you might want to avoid is allowing same day requests with Instant Book on Airbnb. Same day bookings can be hard to manage in terms of property preparation for instance.  To avoid last-minute surprise bookings, set at least 1-day notice you need before a guest arrives, and Airbnb will automatically block days in your calendar.

Tip 3. Set minimum and maximum trip’s length

Airbnb instant book tips

To avoid guests that are not a good match with Instant Book on Airbnb you can use filters such as “at least 2 nights stay”, so this way you’ll play it safer and avoid those guests who only want to stay for 1 night to party. Besides, you can also select maximum trip length. If you don’t set a maximum number of nights, Airbnb will automatically apply a 14-night maximum stay to your listing.

Tip 4. Set additional requirements for guests.

Airbnb claims that your guests will always meet all of Airbnb’s requirements before they book. But you can as well add more guest requirements:

  • Government-issued ID: You can limit bookings to guests who’ve submitted their government-issued ID to Airbnb.
  • Recommendation from other hosts: You can only accept guests who’ve traveled on Airbnb and received positive reviews from other Airbnb hosts. This definitely makes a guest more trustable in the eyes of a host.

Tip 5. Cancel reservation if needed. You can call Airbnb’s support line if you don’t want to host the guest. The booking will be canceled free of charge if you provide a reason why the booking is canceled.

Ultimately, you really don’t lose anything with Instant Book on Airbnb, so use it for your benefit.

Using Instant Book on Airbnb Won’t Be Optional Soon

Airbnb is now taking away market share from Booking.com and similar platforms thanks to Instant Book. Despite grievances from some hosts, Instant Book on Airbnb works so well for both guests and hosts a time may come when Airbnb will turn off the listings that do not allow it completely.

Airbnb has already been testing some changes that have made Instant Book the only available option for accepting reservations on newly created listings. In addition, Airbnb will also be charging hosts who don’t use Instant Book on Airbnb more in host fees. If you don’t want to pay more in host fees, you’ll need to use Instant Book.

The company’s reasoning behind forcing hosts to use Instant Book on Airbnb is that it makes guests feel uncomfortable when they can’t confirm their reservations right away and they are also more likely to never use Airbnb again if they get rejected by a host. Given that Instant Book is one of Airbnb’s tools plans to use to fight against discriminatory behavior from hosts on its platform, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Airbnb will move forward with making these changes permanent.

For now, you still have the option to turn Instant Book on or off for your listing. However, we recommend that you turn this feature on and figure out how to adapt your business to meet any challenges created by Instant Book on Airbnb now before it becomes mandatory.

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