The Airbnb Instant Book guide for hosts

As an Airbnb host, you’re hit with a plethora of options when it comes to listing and marketing your property. Do you want to verify your guests via I.D? Will you charge a cleaning fee, and if so, how much? Do you have a minimum length of stay? Airbnb supports all of these options. You can set fees, ask Airbnb to verify guests for you, set availability, etc – all within specific options on your hosting page. Once you’ve set them, however, there’s another Airbnb-specific option you’ll need to decide on: whether to enable Instant Book or not. 

Airbnb booking options for hosts

Which guests can Instant Book for Airbnb?

The pros & cons Of Airbnb Instant Booking

Setting up and disabling Instant Booking

Cancelling an Instant Booking reservation

Top Instant Book tips

In a world that’s increasingly primed towards digital convenience, guests love the ability to book with minimal hassle. Airbnb listings that offer Instant Booking can drive more conversions than those that don’t. So it’s a strong option if you want to increase your revenue. Airbnb itself states listings that enable the Instant Booking option to double their booking volume. 

As a host with your own lifestyle and property considerations, the benefits of Instant Booking may not outweigh the downsides. It’s up to you to balance the pros and cons before you enable the option in your account.

So how do you make that decision? First, let’s explore the Instant Book option and see if it’s worth it for a host.

Airbnb booking options for hosts

When you list your property on Airbnb, you’ll set all of your availability via the calendar panel in your hosting account. This essentially sets the days you’ll allow your property to be booked by guests – but it doesn’t cover everything. 

Instead, Airbnb provides additional booking options to set more specific criteria than the days you’ll have available. These include: 

Pricing settings

You can set specific pricing for key dates or periods, allowing you to charge more during festive periods or even at the weekend. Conversely, you can adjust pricing to be more competitive during quiet weeks. 

Length of stay

You can configure your account to only allow bookings for a minimum or maximum length of time. Whether you want to remove the option to stay for a single night to avoid partygoers, or you want to only host guests that stay for a week or longer, you can easily set this up in your account. 

Amend check-in/out times

Different check-in and check-out times appeal to different types of hosts just as much as they do to your guests. For example, while a guest may appreciate a later check-out so they can enjoy some extra time in your property. You may want to set it earlier to ensure the property is cleaned and prepared for the next guest’s booking. 

Manual or Instant Booking

If you enable Instant Book in your account, guests who agree to your house rules and have selected available dates can instantly book your home without you having to review. Manual requests instead require a host to approve the booking, which is useful for hosts that want to communicate something with guests before they confirm their stay. (Such as setting expectations for a campsite-style property or double-checking dietary requirements etc.)

Of all of these options, Instant Book is perhaps the most ‘frightening’ because it means you’re relinquishing your ability to ‘vet’ guests yourself. However, the speed, efficiency and revenue it brings are inarguable and hard to ignore. Besides, Airbnb’s policies may already handle some of your biggest concerns.

Which guests can Instant Book for Airbnb?

While the Instant Book option is designed to make things as simple as possible for guests, you as a host can still set pre-existing conditions for allowing Instant Booking on your listing. That means you can only allow Instant Booking for guests that have either/both government ID verification confirmed by Airbnb and positive reviews from other hosts.

You can configure these criteria easily by editing the Instant Book feature in your listings and navigating to guest requirements. 

The pros & cons Of Airbnb Instant Booking

When done right, using Instant Book could really benefit your hosting business. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Depending on your requirements, instant booking could work or turn out to be not worth it.

Pros of Instant Book

Let’s start with what makes instant booking really appealing to lots of hosts. If you’re looking to earn more money from your listing, then turning this option on may be a good place to start….

Increase bookings and revenue

Airbnb states guests are more likely to book if you have Instant Book enabled. Airbnb estimate you’ll get double the bookings compared to manual booking listings. 

Attract more reviews

You’ll naturally attract more reviews if you’re receiving double the bookings. In turn, these reviews will help secure more visibility and greater bookings – a win/win! 

Increase visibility

While more reviews will increase your profile’s visibility, few things help as much as the platform itself choosing to push your listing up its own results page. Instant Book listings are prioritised over manual properties, so you’ll be given higher visibility with it toggled on. 

Frees up time

Instant booking isn’t just convenient for guests; it’s good for you, too – removing any need to approve guests manually. Instead, just set up your criteria and house rules and then let bookings take care of themselves. However, you should still follow up on bookings to confirm guest questions/requirements and check-in times. 

Instant Booking cons

So now you know why it might be worth using instant booking if you want more bookings. But using this option could result in some unwanted hassle too.

Less reliability around guests

When you use Instant Booking, you can’t properly vet guests before their stay like with manual booking. You won’t be able to ask questions until they’ve actually booked. This means you may have to cancel the booking as a host, which is could be a big no-no for Airbnb. This can prevent you from becoming a Superhost. 

On the flip side, guests who use Instant Booking are more likely to cancel their stay than those who use manual booking systems, which may limit the revenue increase you’re likely to see from enabling it in the first place. 

Calendar maintenance

While manual booking requires more of your time to manage, it does at least give you more oversight around booking terms and times. When you enable Instant Booking, you have to be especially careful to keep your calendar availability up to date – otherwise, guests can instantly book without approval, and you’ll need to cancel. 

Setting up and disabling Instant Booking

We’ve got good news if you like the sound of Instant Booking: it’s really easy to set up and get started. You need to navigate to your listings and then find ‘Policies and Rules’ > ‘Instant Book’ > Edit > ‘Instant Book On’. You should also check the following: 

Additional guest requirements

You can ask Airbnb to only permit Instant Bookings for guests with verification or a positive review history

Minimum notice period

Avoid last-minute bookings by requiring at least one day’s notice for Instant Booking. 

Set min/max stay

Adjust the minimum and maximum length of stay to ensure you only receive the bookings you want. 

One final tip from Pikl’s own Superhost is to consider automating guest communication when you enable Instant Book. For example, set up a question-based email that gathers the information you’re most concerned about, so even if you’re not actively working, you can quickly assess a guest post-booking. 

But what can you do if the guest’s responses make you uncomfortable? 

Cancelling an Instant Booking reservation

Luckily, Airbnb provides some get-out clauses for hosts to protect them when they enable Instant Book. This is only fair, as you’re exposing yourself to additional risk so that Airbnb can market easy booking to guests. If a guest is making you feel uncomfortable for reasons that do not violate Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy, you can request to cancel your booking. In many cases, Airbnb will cancel without punishing you or removing your Superhost status. 

If, however, you need to cancel because you’ve made a mistake in your calendar system, you will be penalised with anything from a cancellation fee to a blocked calendar or even an account cancellation.

Top Instant Book tips

Instant book is a great way to increase total booking volume, but it will only work for some hosts. So, keep these top tips in mind to ensure you get the best end of the bargain from your Airbnb Instant Book listing.

Keep your calendar updated!

This is crucial to success and doesn’t just refer to availability. Remember to set pricing accordingly during festive seasons or peak demand – you don’t want a guest to be able to Instant Book a stay a year from now when festive activities near your listing reach their peak. 

Confer with guests

You might think Instant Booking takes care of everything, but you should still contact guests after their booking confirmation to sort out the check-in and answer queries. It gives you a chance to make sure you’re happy with the guest and their intentions. 

Establish house rules

Your house rules aren’t legally binding, but your guests must agree to them when booking, so they add a layer of security and ‘pushback’ if you need to open a case with Airbnb. In the event, a guest does damage, vandalise or steal from your property, don’t rely on Aircover or standard insurance. In most cases, neither will give you the same protection as a specialist insurance policy. This is an issue we discuss on our Airbnb insurance page.

Get Airbnb insurance

Our host insurance covers hosts just like you by offering you a far greater level of protection to help you rent with confidence. When you’re letting guests book instantly, you’re opening the doors a little wider – so it pays to have the right insurance to cover your property in the event of any issues.

Looking for Airbnb insurance?

We offer insurance for Airbnb hosting, which includes cover for theft, malicious or accidental damage, public liability and more. By getting a quote you can compare prices for specialist cover across a panel of insurers.

Read more of our Airbnb guides

If you’re wondering how to become an Airbnb host, how to grow your business or want to learn more about hosting-specific topics, take a look at our 30+ Airbnb guides.

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Pikl Insurance Services Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 10449346 with registered office Suite B, 2nd Floor, The Atrium, St. Georges Street, Norwich, England, NR3 1AB. Pikl Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA, firm number 773457.