Before the introduction of Instant Book, it was commonplace for property managers to vet travelers wanting to book their short-term rental. This gave property managers the opportunity to communicate their expectations to those hoping to rent their property.
But as much peace of mind as this method provides, traveler booking preferences are gravitating toward the booking experience provided by hotels; an instantaneous receipt of confirmation. This is in large part due to the popularity of OTAs and listing sites exposing more travelers to the option of short-term rentals.
For example, more than 60% of reservations on Airbnb are made via the Instant Book option and according to TripAdvisor, 40% of their travelers expect to be able to book a rental instantly. Booking.com has gotten rid of booking inquiries all together, meaning every listing must accept Instant Book.
Similar trends can be seen across other listing channels as well. The truth is, Instant Book converts better, and as a result, all channels are currently pushing their Instant Book options. It is expected that in the future, support for other types of bookings will be reduced in order to push property managers toward offering instant book vacation rentals.
Why should you turn on Instant Book for your vacation rentals
Get more bookings. More than half of the vacation rentals listed on Airbnb have the Instant Book feature turned on. According to Airbnb, when you turn on Instant Book, you can expect your bookings to increase by 20%. This alone is a strong reason to enable Instant Book for your properties, across all channels.
Enjoy more exposure. Some travelers search only for ‘Instant Book’ properties. If you leave this feature off, you’re missing out on a whole group of travelers who may not be seeing your property otherwise.
Elevate your ranking. One of the easiest ways to rank higher on Airbnb and across channels is to turn on Instant Book. Why? Because most listing sites reward hosts with fast response times. Instant Book exponentially increases your response time because guests don’t have to wait to hear back from you before booking.
Win more bookings. There’s a chance that if a traveler doesn’t hear back from you as you wait to approve their request to book that they’ll simply find another option in the meantime. When you utilize Instant Book, you immediately eliminate this problem.
Capture last minute travelers. The Instant Book option is a life saver for last minute travelers, which accounts for 40% of online reservations. Someone who is booking last minute is not likely to stick around and wait to hear back from a host while they seek to make their travel plan.
Benefiting from Instant Book doesn’t mean you can’t protect your properties
Despite the benefits of allowing Instant Book, a common objection heard from property managers is that they won't be able to control their properties from being occupied by troublesome guests. But there are ways to reap the benefits of Instant Book while protecting your properties. Most channels have implemented measures that will reject any travelers who don’t meet your standards.
Set your own Instant Book parameters. Airbnb has built-in protection for Instant Book, but you can set your own criteria for people wanting to book instantly with you as well. For instance, you can choose to require a government-issued ID that a guest has to upload in order for their booking to be confirmed or you can require that their guest star rating is above a certain threshold. If the guest doesn’t meet your requirements, their instant booking request will be rejected.
Be clear on house rules. In order for guests to be able to book with Instant Book, they must first accept your house rules. Clicking Instant Book is their acceptance of your rules, promising to abide by the stipulations you have set. If they do not hold up their agreement, you may cancel the booking at your discretion. So, be sure to clearly outline your rules before you turn on Instant Book.
Here are some Instant Book best practices for you to consider:
Create “complete” listings. Travelers may be hesitant to choose the Instant Book option if they don’t have all of their questions answered up front, so be sure to add plenty of detail to your listings. This includes adding as many photos as you have the option to.
Keep your calendar up-to-date. Always keep your calendar updated. If someone chooses to book instantly and the dates they selected aren’t actually available, you will be penalized.
If you need assistance managing your properties’ calendars across your channel management strategy, including your own direct channel, consider using a property management software like MyVR. We only implement complete, direct integrations to all of your favorite listing sites, ensuring that you will minimize double bookings and unwanted vacancies once and for all.