What is Airbnb Instant Book?



My name is Max Mackey and I have been a long-time host on Airbnb.  I have tested and used Airbnb Instant Book and I’ll give you the pro’s and con’s of it.

I’ve been hosting on Airbnb for over two years and am currently in charge of four listings (all within the Los Angeles area). Like most hosts, I maintain a balancing act of trying to provide the highest overall guest experience with maximizing profits from my listings.

What is Airbnb Instant Book?

Airbnb’s definition:

“Instant Book listings don’t require approval from the host before you can book them. Instead, you can just choose your travel dates and discuss check-in plans with the host. There is no additional fee for confirming a reservation with Instant Book. You can filter your search to only view listings that are available through Instant Book.

To be eligible for Instant Book, you must have a profile photo.” – Airbnb Help Center

My Experience with Instant Book

From my experience, I’ve seen Instant Book on/off attract a wide-range of guests and it’s important to understand which type of guests instant book will be attracted to a listing. Afterall, these are guests that will be staying in your home.

For example:

Scenario 1: Having instant book on for an entire home can attract a large group of friends looking for a last minute party spot. Having instant book off can attract a family planning a vacation months ahead.

Scenario 2: Having instant book on for a room in an apartment might attract travelers who are already in the city and looking to book something quick on their smartphones. Having instant book off could attract a person planning accommodations for an upcoming business trip.

Pros of Having Instant Book On

  • Having instant book on allows guest to book with a just one click. This is convenient for travelers using mobile phones or who have access to limited wifi/data.
  • Hosts with instant book on often receive 2x the bookings…this could potentially bring twice the revenue, which is amazing.
  • More bookings brings the opportunity to earn more reviews.  Airbnb Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to message guests after their stay and ask for that review! This will help you achieve Airbnb Superhost status much faster.  
  • Having instant book turned on will also help get your listing to rank better in Airbnb’s search results.  The more convenient it is for a guest to book, the more likely they are to book…so Airbnb will promote the listings with the best chance of converting the fastest.
  • The instant book feature allows hosts to set parameters for which guests can use it and how far advanced they can book. For my listing, I set it this option for verified guests only and they could book up to one day in advance.

I would highly recommend against allowing same day requests with instant book. In my experience, I’ve rarely had a pleasant time hosting someone who is searching for a same day reservation.  Try it for yourself and see, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cons of Having Instant Book On

  • With instant book, guests book a reservation and then go over details with the host after the reservation is made. This can be a bit of a roller coaster ride each time because guests using instant book have a tendency to “book first, ask questions later” before reading all of the rules.  This could lead to increased cancellations and lost availability for your unit.  If someone books and in 3 days decides they want to cancel, you just lost 3 days worth of marketing your unit to paying customers.
  • I’ve had experiences where a guest would book using instant book and forget to read our 9am check out time, leaving it up to me to explain and affirm that this is a rule for our listing and is non-negotiable.

The benefits of more money and more bookings are great, it does come at a cost to the work/life balance of being a host.

Is Instant Book Right for your Airbnb Listing?

Hosts usually fall into two camps (myself included) with opinions towards instant book.

The first is the profit driven hosts that likes maintaining high occupancy by having instant book on.

The second group of hosts are more interested in achieving host/life balance by having the ability to respond to requests for bookings and having instant book off.

Test Airbnb Instant Book

With this info, test instant book out and see what works best for you and your listing. Play around with it on/off during busy travel months. The only way to find out exactly what works for you is by testing out each and optimizing for your preferences.

Considering becoming an Airbnb host?

Being an Airbnb host has helped my family achieve financial freedom, cover our monthly expenses, and save for a rainy day. If you’re looking to become a host on Airbnb, try it out, there’s no better time to join than right now. You will get a $50 bonus if you sign up today.

Check out ALL of our Airbnb Hosting Tips Here.

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