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If you’ve ever booked a hotel room online, you likely enjoyed the convenience of being able to do so right away. You looked at room availability and prices, chose one that matched your needs, and booked. Simple! More and more vacation rental platforms are jumping onboard with Instant Booking, allowing guests and hosts to complete reservations without all the hassle and of timely back-and-forth communication.
Instant Book is a fast and convenient and the process can increase bookings by a massive 61 percent, according to 9flats.com.
Whether you’re a guest or a host, here are some of the benefits, requirements, and challenges of Instant Book.
This automated service provides benefits for both the traveler and the property owner. As mentioned, Instant Book makes confirming a reservation fast and easy for guests and can optimize conversions and increase booking rates for hosts – and it’s free to use for guests and hosts alike.
For Airbnb hosts, turning Instant Book on and off is as simple as toggling the option under Manage Listings. Once Instant Book is turned on, options appear for you to choose which guests are able to utilize your new feature. You remain in partial control as you’re able to determine whether you’re willing to automate reservations for guests who have received only positive reviews from other hosts, or from guests who have at least a profile picture.
You’re also able to choose how much notice you require for your listing to be booked: same day; 1 day; 3 days; or 7 days advanced notice. And to maintain that personal touch, the customizable welcome message allows you to craft a message for guests to see before they book.
One of the largest perks of Instant Book is the positive effect on your response rate – which is key to ranking higher in search results and working towards Superhost status (which requires you to have a 90% response rate). As far as search results go, Airbnb is more likely to push your property up the rankings if you have Instant Book turned on. Guests, too, have options to filter for Instant Book and your property could be overlooked if you’re not utilizing the feature.
Some hosts, however, are apprehensive about automated instant booking services. Vacation home rental owners might prefer to receive information about a prospective guest before they grant them access to their property. Other online booking services aren’t as instant as Airbnb and provide a happy medium: HomeAway – which wants to make 100 percent of their listings bookable online by the end of 2016 – gives hosts 24 hours to communicate with a guest and confirm or decline the reservation through their online Book it Now button. This way, guests can still finalize their lodging plans relatively quickly and hosts have more breathing space.
HomeAway also offers to listings which are managed by property managers the option of Instant Book services. The company plans to expand the service soon, to homeowners, but no inkling towards when has yet to be mentioned.
Instant booking is one tool that could make private vacation rentals more of a player in the rental industry at large. However, it has yet to be widely adopted by private owners of properties. As Pillow co-founder Todd Conway wrote in a blog post, Instant Booking has the potential to bring sites such as Airbnb much more customer volume, but companies need to also ensure the quality of accommodations is there.
But change is definitely on the horizon. As Conway’s post points out, as companies continue to acquire and merge with others, Instant Book will continue to rise. Andrew McConnell, CEO of rented., also wrote about the consolidation of the industry. These joint ventures promise more of a focus on the guest as well as increased scale of bookings and brand recognition.
In a nutshell, adding Instant Book to more listings gives travelers more options. They have a genuine, homespun alternative to hotels, and it is as easy as booking a hotel room online. More travelers will get to enjoy individual, unique experiences on their trips without sacrificing peace of mind.
Also, hosts will be able to increase their booking rates with little effort and will simultaneously enjoy seeing a rise in their response rates. It’s a simple way to earn more income – watch as the feature is adapted by more and more listing and booking platforms.