When (not) to use Instant Book on Airbnb

It might lead to higher rankings and more bookings for your Airbnb but before you decide to opt for Instant Book on your Airbnb listing you should consider some of the negative aspects of allowing guests to book your place so easily.

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What is Instant Book?

Instant Book is a feature that hosts can select for their listing which removes the approval process. Instead of being notified that someone is interested in your place and then giving them the thumbs up/down – guests can just choose their dates, book, and discuss check-in plans later. If you turn on Instant Book, it will apply to all the available nights on your calendar and guests will automatically be able to book your accommodation as long as they meet your requirements.

The benefits of Instant Book

  • Making your life easier: This feature removes the need for you to have to respond to each and every request (and, in turn, removes the risk of you being labelled an ‘unresponsive’ host) which means more time for you and your family.
  • Making their life easier: Many guests are booking accommodation on the run. They are logging on at airports and train stations – trying to book somewhere to stay for the night. Or sitting with their laptops trying to plan a holiday with limited time. These guests can use filters on Airbnb so that only accommodation with Instant Book appears in their searches. They want hassle-free booking and Instant Book provides that.
  • Moving your Airbnb up the list: The Instant Book feature benefits
    your response rate for your listing which has the potential to move you up the list when it comes to search results.
  • Superhost status: To secure Superhost status on Airbnb you need to be a host that has at least a 90 percent response rate. By allowing Instant Book, your chances of achieving this status are increased.

[bctt tweet=”Many guests are booking accommodation on the run. Turning ‘on’ Instant Book will make their booking process quick and easy. ” username=”GuestReady”]

The downsides of Instant Book

The biggest problem with this feature is that it removes a barrier between you and your host and therefore reduces some of your control when it comes to who walks through the front door.

Many hosts want to look at a potential guest’s profile and read their references and reviews before approving. They want to make sure the personality and expectations of the guest are suited to the space – and often they want to read a message from the host explaining their purpose for travel. In general, Instant Book also leads to more cancellations – possibly because the guest doesn’t feel like they have engaged with the host or made a firm commitment due to the Instant Book feature.

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Who should use Instant Book?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to this. The Instant Book feature is recommended for new Airbnb listings because it helps improve your chances of being ‘found’ in the system and, if you don’t have reviews connected to your listing, it can help add to the attractiveness of your place for guests.

If you’re setting up your Airbnb to be a passive source of income for you and treating it more like a business – this feature is also helpful as it takes some of your workload away.

For hosts who live close to their Airbnb (i.e. if it’s a granny flat in their backyard or a separate flat in the building) Instant Book seems like less of a risk as – even if the wrong kind of guest ends up staying the chances of them disturbing your daily life is quite slim and you will be able to keep a close eye on the situation.

Who should not use Instant Book?

If you don’t want someone rocking up to your door within four hours of booking your place on Airbnb…then it’s best not to use Instant Book. The feature doesn’t necessarily allow guests to book and arrive in such a short space of time but for many travellers – that ease is what they are looking for with the instant booking feature.

Does your Airbnb listing have shared spaces like a communal kitchen or bathroom? If so, you probably want to vet guests rather than let them book instantly as there’s a chance people who are less compatible with your set-up might end up staying with you.


Allowing Instant Book does not mean that you have zero control over who stays at your apartment or home. You can set conditions – such as only accepting guests who have provided a government ID or who have been recommended by other hosts. This is a good way to protect yourself. You can also read our Airbnb Guests to Avoid which gives some good suggestions on vetting guests. If you want to use Instant Book but still have some concerns about security, check out our blog about using surveillance cameras.

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