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The pros and cons of instant book

New hosts will often grapple with whether to activate instant book for their short-term rental (writes James Varley).

Accepting instant bookings depends on your preferences, hosting style, and comfort level with allowing guests to make a reservation without prior approval.

Personally, I do accept instant bookings because I prefer it as a traveller and I think it helps to achieve more reservations.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to enable instant book:

Pros of activating instant book

Increased booking potential

Instant book can attract more bookings as it allows guests to reserve your property without waiting for host approval. This is convenient for travellers who prefer a quick and seamless booking process.

Competitive advantage

Many guests prefer listings with instant book because it provides certainty and avoids delays. Enabling instant book can give your property a competitive edge in the market.

Search ranking improvement

Some booking platforms may prioritise listings with instant book enabled, potentially improving your property's visibility in search results.

Time savings

Instant book eliminates the need for back-and-forth communication with guests before confirming a reservation. This can save you time and streamline the booking process.

Positive guest experience

Guests who prefer instant book appreciate the convenience and speed of securing accommodation, contributing to a positive overall guest experience.

Cons of activating instant book

Limited control

Instant book means guests can book without prior communication. If you prefer more control over who stays at your property, activating instant book may not be the best fit.

Risk of misaligned expectations

Without prior communication, there is a risk of guests having misaligned expectations about the property or house rules. Clear and detailed listing information becomes crucial.

Potential for last-minute bookings

Instant book may lead to last-minute bookings, which may not be suitable for hosts with strict preparation or cleaning schedules.

Concerns about party or event bookings

Some hosts worry about the potential for guests to book for parties or events without prior discussion. This risk can be mitigated by setting clear house rules and communicating expectations.

Tips for using instant book

If you decide to enable instant book, consider implementing the following tips:

Set strict house rules

Clearly outline your house rules in your listing to ensure guests are aware of expectations, minimising the risk of issues.

Use instant book filters

Some platforms allow you to set criteria for guests who can instantly book, such as verified government ID or positive reviews. Use these filters to enhance control.

Maintain prompt communication

Even with instant book, maintaining communication with guests is important. Respond promptly to inquiries, and provide any necessary information before the check-in date.

Regularly update availability

Keep your calendar up to date to avoid last-minute bookings when you may not be prepared to accommodate guests.

Ultimately, the decision to activate instant book depends on your comfort level, hosting style, and the specific dynamics of your short-term rental. Some hosts find success with instant book, while others prefer the additional control of approving each reservation manually. You can also experiment with instant book and reassess based on your experience and preferences.

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