For a long time AirBnb’s platform encouraged a back and forth between guests and hosts. Guests couldn’t just book, they would have to send a request, ideally with information about themselves and their plans, along with a request to stay. The idea was that the host and guest would become more acquainted with each other and determine if the property was the right fit for the guest and finalize the booking.
As a host it’s nice to have the ability to screen guests to ensure they’re a good fit for your property. The vast majority of people I’ve hosted are respectful and have no issues whatsoever, however on occasion guests neglect to read a listing (or they do read a listing) and though they aren’t a good fit for the property, they book anyway. Maybe the guest plans to have a party when you don’t allow parties at your property, or they have pets or kids they intend to bring when your property isn’t suitable. Either way, the vetting process helped to avoid these potential problems and helped hosts to be responsible and neighborly.
But then a very small group of unscrupulous hosts began to abuse the approval process and vetting guests based on inappropriate things, like their ethnic background or skin color. To preserve the community that their platform had become, this prompted AirBnb to respond in an effort to mitigate discrimination. Perhaps the only way to really stop this kind of discrimination of guests was to encourage hosts to activate Instant Book and allow guests, who met certain criteria, to automatically book a property without being manually vetted by the host.
At first many hosts were weary of Instant Book, yours truly included. I liked the ability to screen guests to ensure they weren’t trying to host a party at our property or bring pets when we don’t allow them. (By the way, I have 2 dogs and I absolutely adore pets, but for our property they just aren’t a good fit) But the train was leaving the station, as hosts we needed to start doing what was best for everyone to ensure that discrimination wasn’t a part of the vacation rental experience and AirBnb would begin to find way to make sure the encouragement to use Instant Book was a little more than encouragement.
While they don’t say it explicitly anywhere, I do believe that having on Instant Book has a direct impact on your property’s visibility on AirBnb. They do say that there’s an indirect positive impact but I suspect it’s more direct than that. And as the vacation rental market becomes more competitive, every little advantage can help you to keep your property occupied. Since turning on Instant Book we definitely saw an increase in bookings and frankly, our guests seem to like it. We haven’t had more problems with guests than we did before which tells me that the automated screening mechanisms AirBnb has in place are working. Furthermore, we always recommend that hosts message guests that use Instant Book to confirm specifics about the property and what is and is not allowed.
Instant Book can be a scary concept but when used properly it’s no more disruptive than a typical screening, it’s all how you as a host handle it.