What is Airbnb Instant Book?

Airbnb Instant Book is a feature on the Airbnb platform that allows guests to book accommodations instantly without needing approval from the host. 

For some hosts, this feature is a game-changer for hosts that streamlines their booking process and increases their occupancy rates. It’s particularly beneficial for small hotel owners who are looking to drive growth and revenue through a well-known instant booking platform like Airbnb.

For other hosts, Instant Book can present a risk, as it removes the ability to decline guests manually. Hosts can still cancel the booking later if they’re concerned, but some small hoteliers prefer to have a vetting process built in.

Why is Airbnb Instant Book beneficial for small accommodation providers

Airbnb Instant Book can be a powerful tool for small hotel owners. It offers several benefits that can help you grow your business:

  • Increased visibility. Listings with Instant Book tend to rank higher in Airbnb’s search results, increasing your property’s visibility to potential guests.
  • Streamlined booking process. Instant Book eliminates the need for back-and-forth communication between guests and hosts, making the booking process faster and more efficient.
  • Higher conversion rates. Guests appreciate the convenience and certainty of Instant Book, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
  • Greater trust and credibility. Airbnb awards Superhost status to hosts who provide exceptional hospitality, which includes using Instant Book. Superhosts are highlighted in search results and are trusted more by guests.

How do instant bookings work on Airbnb?

When a traveller finds the listing they want to book on Airbnb that is available on the dates they want to book, they can book and have their booking confirmed instantly if the listing has Instant Book enabled. The guest and the host receive an email from Airbnb confirming the reservation. Simple as that.

Airbnb Instant Book vs request to book

The main difference between Instant Book and Request to Book lies in the booking process. 

  • With Instant Book, guests can book your listing immediately without waiting for your approval. 
  • With Request to Book, guests must send a booking request, which you can accept or decline within 24 hours.

While Instant Book can be a great choice for some hoteliers, some Airbnb hosts choose not to use Instant Book for a variety of reasons.

  • They offer long stays. Some places in the world have requirements around hosting regulations and how long someone can stay. If your hotel must only offer long-term stays, Instant Booking removes the opportunity to work out logistics with guests before they settle on a booking.
  • They have unique personal requirements. Some people on Airbnb have rules around a guest stay that require more explanation. For example, one small hotelier may have a severe sensitivity or allergy, and a reservation request gives them the chance to talk through the specific house rules before a booking is made.
  • They have a unique hotel with unique considerations. Not everyone reads the listings all the way through. Getting a request for reservation instead of an Instant Book ensures that you can tell potential guests that the hotel is, for example, in an extremely rustic location without consistent access to electricity. That might be part of the appeal, but it’s better to confirm with guests.

Basically, it boils down to Instant Book removing the opportunity to provide or ask for more information. In a straightforward Airbnb situation, this is fine, but if your hotel is more unique, a request for reservation may be a better choice.

Customising Instant Book settings

One of the best ways to get the most out of Airbnb Instant Book is to use the customisation settings to create a better guest experience while protecting your business.

Every Airbnb guest must agree to each listing’s rules before booking through Instant Book. You can set these rules to fit your hotel. The options include:

  • Identity verification. Airbnb’s trust identity verification process requires that guests provide their legal name, address, other personal information, a government ID, or even a picture. This makes sure that you’re definitely hosting who you think you’re hosting.
  • Positive reviews. Instant Booking hosts can require guests to have positive reviews from other hosts. The best proof of a good guest is in the experiences of other hoteliers, so this is a powerful way to protect your listing from damage.
  • Minimum stay. This is straightforward: you can require that Instant Booking guests have to have had one Airbnb stay before in order to book with you.
  • Pre-booking message. Less of a rule and more of an option for automation. You can set the pre-booking message for your Instant Booking guests, providing them with important information/policies/T&Cs they need to know before they book.
  • Maximum guests. Limiting the number of guests you can accept through Instant Booking can take the pressure off, particularly if the booking is short-notice.

You can also require guests to provide advance notice to avoid last minute instant bookings that leave you with no time to actually prepare the room. You can set this to same-day, at least 1 day, at least 3 days, and at least 7 days beforehand.

Airbnb Instant Book requirements for hosts

Airbnb has requirements of hosts as well before they can use Instant Booking. To access this option:

  • Your listing must be in a category that allows Instant Booking.
  • You must have a good history of honouring reservations through Airbnb.
  • You must maintain a high response rate.

How to set up instant booking Airbnb

Setting up Instant Book on Airbnb is straightforward. 

  1. Go to your Airbnb account, 
  2. Select the listing you want to enable Instant Book for, and 
  3. Switch on the Instant Book option. 

You can customise your Instant Book settings to suit your preferences, such as requiring guests to have positive reviews or verified identification.

Tips to maximise Airbnb Instant Book for hosts 

To fully harness the potential of Airbnb Instant Book, consider these tailored strategies:

  • Establish clear guest criteria. Minimise potential risks by setting specific prerequisites for guests. You can stipulate that guests must have a certain number of positive reviews, verified identification, a minimum duration as an Airbnb member, or set a cap on the number of guests for Instant Book use. This ensures that your guests are likely to respect your property and rules.
  • Implement a rigorous cancellation policy. A stringent cancellation policy can help protect you from last-minute cancellations. If a cancellation does occur, you’ll still receive full payment.
  • Require a security deposit. Requesting a security deposit can deter guests from damaging your property, as they will be financially responsible for any damages.
  • Enforce a rental agreement. Having guests sign a rental agreement not only discourages inappropriate behaviour but also provides you with legal protection in case of any damaging or illegal activities.
  • Maintain open communication. Keep the lines of communication open from the moment a guest books your property. By promptly answering their questions and clearly communicating your rules, you can ensure guests are well-informed about what is expected during their stay.
  • Develop a comprehensive welcome guide. A detailed welcome guide can help guests understand the rules and expectations for their stay. The guide should provide information about the property, the local area, and any specific rules that guests need to adhere to. Clear guidelines can help prevent misunderstandings and potential damage to your property.
  • Integrate Airbnb with property management software. Instant Book can mean that you rapidly get more listings than you’re used to. Management is key here, especially when it comes to listings across multiple platforms. Ensure that you can integrate Airbnb Instant Book reservations with your existing software platform.

While Airbnb Instant Book can be a powerful tool, it can quickly create challenges with managing multiple bookings, especially if you’re using multiple platforms. That’s where Little Hotelier comes in. 

One of the key features of Little Hotelier is its ability to synchronise your availability across all platforms in real-time. This ensures that your availability information is always accurate, no matter where your guests are booking from. This feature is particularly useful for hosts using Airbnb Instant Book, as it helps to prevent situations where a room is booked instantly on Airbnb while being reserved on another platform.

Gain more control of Airbnb instant bookings with Little Hotelier

Harnessing the power of Airbnb Instant Book can revolutionise the way small hotel owners and operators manage their bookings. Combined with the comprehensive capabilities of Little Hotelier’s booking engine, you can expect faster, easier listing management, generating more direct bookings and revenue, and practically eliminating that dreaded admin.

By choosing Little Hotelier, you gain access to an all-in-one direct booking management software that simplifies your operations. With a single login, you can manage all your bookings across more than 450 OTAs (including Airbnb) in one place, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors.

Here’s just part of what you can expect from Little Hotelier:

  • Stay on top of all your listings, everywhere. Keep your availability up-to-date across all platforms in real-time, preventing double bookings and ensuring accurate information for your guests.
  • Earn more with direct bookings. Allow guests to book directly from your website, bypassing third-party platforms and their associated fees.
  • Get the insights you need to grow. Gain valuable insights into your business performance, including guest information, competitor pricing data, and your hotel’s financial performance helping you make data-driven decisions to grow your business.

By leveraging Little Hotelier, businesses have seen a significant enhancement in their guest experience and revenue, with potential increases of up to 46% in bookings and an impressive ROI of 63x!

By Shine Colcol

Shine is the SEO and Content Manager of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. With more than five years of experience and expertise in content strategy, creation, and management, Shine has produced informational content across various topics, mostly around improving daily operations and increasing business metrics. She aims to share well-researched articles in hopes of helping bed and breakfast owner-operators win more bookings and gain more control of their small property.