What Is Airbnb Instant Book and How to Use It Effectively | iGMS (2023)

If you’re a member of the Airbnb community, chances are you’ve seen the Instant Book option, and you know that it’s a feature that many hosts are already using. If you haven’t tried it out yourself, here’s all the information you need to help you gain a better understanding of this feature.

Airbnb introduced Instant Book to improve the user experience on its platform and speed up the booking process. Though, this option comes with advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of before adding it to your listing.

What Is Airbnb Instant Book and How to Use It Effectively | iGMS (1)

What Is Airbnb Instant Book?

Instant Book is an option that an Airbnb host can turn on for their listings. It allows guests tobook a property automatically. Instant Book reservation requests don’t need to be approved by the host first. Instead, guests can enter their travel dates and proceed straight to discussing check-in with the host.

Airbnb describes Instant Book as a function that helps reduce the hassle of the booking process. It makes booking easier for guests while increasing the number of reservations for hosts. Ultimately, it delivers a win-win situation for both parties.

Should You Use the Airbnb Instant Book Option?

If you’re still in doubt whether the Airbnb Instant Book feature is a good idea for your business, here are advantages and downsides to consider.

Pros of Using the Airbnb Instant Book Option

  • Maximizes your bookings

Having Instant Book turned on will help you secure more reservations. Guests enjoy a hassle-free booking process. So, they often use filters to find a listing that can be booked with just one click. This is why, by turning this feature on, you can speed up the whole booking process and drive more prospective guests to your listing.

  • Improves your Airbnb ranking

Your listing’s position is automatically lowered within Airbnb’s rankings when you don’t have Instant Book on. To appear among the top listings in Airbnb’s search results, add this option to your listing. By improving your ranking, you can increase visibility for your listing.

  • Increases the number of reviews

To put it simply, more bookings means more reviews. When you have Instant Book turned on, you’ll be able to receive more reviews and achieve the Airbnb Superhost status title much faster.

  • Makes your life easier

Guests can book properties without the approval of a host. This means you don’t have to respond every time to guests’ requests. You can save time on guest communication and spend it on other essential tasks.

Cons of Using Instant Book

  • Increased cancelations

With Instant Book turned on, Airbnb guests have a tendency to book first and go over the details with the host later after making the reservation. When guests fail to read the rules, it could lead to increased cancelations. Moreover, it can lead to a loss in profit, if you get a last-minute cancelation.

  • Possible unreliable guests

Hosts can’t decide on who makes reservations to stay at their vacation rental. Many hosts prefer to vet their guests before they allow them to stay in their homes and they feel that Instant Book takes this right away from them.

If you are still unsure about using this feature, these tactics can help you understand what you need to do when dealing with Instant Book guests.

5 Tactics for Dealing with Instant Book Guests

  1. Set Up a Dialogue

First, if you have doubts about your guest, try communicating with him/her. You can get a better idea of the type of guest you are dealing with during a conversation.

For example, you can ask at what time the guest will arrive, if he or she checked the house rules and if there are any special requirements on their end. You can also ask if they have any questions or concerns about house rules to make sure that they’ve read them.

  1. Include a 1-day Notice for Your Instant Bookings

One option you might want to avoid is allowing same-day requests with Airbnb Instant Book. Same-day bookings can be hard to manage, especially when it comes to property preparation and cleaning.

What Is Airbnb Instant Book and How to Use It Effectively | iGMS (2)

To avoid last-minute surprise bookings, set a 1-day notice for all reservations, or more if you feel like it’s necessary. Airbnb will automatically block the chosen days in your calendar.

  1. Set a Minimum and Maximum Stay

Instant Book on Airbnb allows you to use filters to help you avoid short bookings or guests who only want to stay for one night. You can add a 2 or 3-night stay requirement to have enough time to prepare your property for the next guests. Moreover, setting a minimum-stay requirement will help you to drive away guests who rent a house for the purpose of throwing a party.

You should also set a maximum stay policy for your vacation rental. If you don’t set a maximum number of nights, Airbnb will automatically apply a 14-night maximum stay to your listing.

  1. Add Additional Requirements for Guests

Airbnb claims that your guests will meet all of Airbnb’s requirements before they make a reservation. However, Airbnb can’t guarantee that all the requirements will be met. That is why it is a good decision to add additional guest requirements to protect yourself, such as:

  • limit bookings to guests who’ve submitted their government-issued ID to Airbnb;
  • only accept guests who’ve already used Airbnb and received positive reviews from other hosts.
  1. Cancel a Reservation if Necessary

You don’t have to put up with a reservation that makes you feel uncomfortable or raises doubts. According to the Airbnb rules, you are able to cancel reservations if you have a solid reason to do so. This option allows you to have more control over your reservations, even when they are booked instantly.

Top 3 Commonly Asked Questions About Airbnb Instant Book

  1. Can I cancel an Instant Book reservation penalty-free?

Yes. Hosts who have Instant Book turned on can cancel without penalty. They will have to provide reasons as to why they don’t want to proceed with a reservation. Hosts can’t cancel penalty-free if their reasons violate Airbnb’s Non-discrimination policy.

Here are a few examples of when you may cancel the booking without penalty:

  • If the guest is unreliable and has bad reviews;
  • If the guest hasn’t responded or avoids responding to your questions about his or her trip;
  • If the guest is likely to break your’ house rules, i.e. if guests make it clear that they will bring a pet or smoke inside when both things are strictly forbidden.

Keep in mind that you can cancel Instant Book reservations only 3 times in one year. After that, to cancel a reservation that you’re uncomfortable with, you will have to contact Airbnb Support to get a penalty-free cancelation. If it happens quite often, Airbnb will require you to turn the Instant Book option off.

  1. How and when can I enable/disable Airbnb Instant Book?

You can enable/disable Instant Book at any time. To turn on or off the Airbnb Instant Book feature, open Booking Settings. To enable Instant Book, select “Guests who meet all your requirements can book without requesting approval”. If you want to disable Instant Book, you should select “All guests must send reservation requests”.

However, instead of turning off this feature, Airbnb advises and encourages hosts to explore other useful options. For instance, if you notice that you don’t have enough time between reservations for, let’s say, cleaning, you can edit calendar settings to block days between bookings automatically.

Be sure to check out the guest, calendar, and reservation settings available and opt for the ones that will help attract reservations that fit your listing.

If you manage multiple accounts, adjusting your settings, updating calendars, and tracking reservations are much easier with a vacation rental software, such as iGMS. You can easily turn on/turn off Instant Book for your listings via iGMS.

In addition, iGMS will help you to automate your routine operations and boost productivity. Take advantage of the following features:

  • Unified inbox for all your Airbnb and HomeAway/Vrbo messages
  • Review management module to automate the process of leaving reviews
  • Multiple account management
  • Reporting feature to track your business performance
  • Email and chat support
  • Cleaning and team management

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  1. Why does Airbnb give a search boost to hosts who have Instant Book turned on?

The answer to this question is pretty simple. Airbnb promotes listings with the Instant Book option turned on because the company wants to make sure that travelers choose its platform for booking vacation rentals.

Guests are more likely to choose rentals that can be booked instantly due to convenience. Instantly bookable rentals ensure more future business for hosts, as well as more business for Airbnb.

What Is Airbnb Instant Book and How to Use It Effectively | iGMS (3)

Airbnb encourages hosts to have this option turned on since, with it, there’s a lot more potential for increasing profits.

What Are Hosts Saying About Airbnb Instant Book?

Whether a host uses Airbnb Instant Book or not depends on the individual host’s preferences. In fact, hosts have shared both reasons for and against using Instant Book on the Air Hosts Forum.

I’m a single woman and I’ve hosted well over 200 people over the last almost 3 years. I’ve had IB most of that time and I haven’t had any problems. You can require the government ID option for Airbnb.

You can also check their ID when they arrive at your rental. As for rules, they have to say they have read them and agree to them. Airbnb has no way to force them to follow them. You have to try to police them.” – K9KarmaCasa

I personally don’t use Instant Book and it does not affect my bookings rating but I don’t have a private guest entrance and want to know exactly who is coming, when, and to ensure guests’ needs are what I can meet.” – Emily

As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons why hosts are for or against turning on Instant Book for their listings. It is a smart decision to read what others have to say about their experience of using Airbnb Instant Book on several forums. This way you will be sure that you’ve made the right choice for your short-term business.


Despite grievances from some hosts, Airbnb Instant Book works well for both guests and hosts. Many hosts have reported that they had a significant boost in response rate, got more visibility on Airbnb, and, thus, more bookings. Give it a try and see whether Airbnb Instant Book has a positive effect on your business. As time goes by, you can decide whether or not to continue to use it.

To reduce potential risks, make sure to enable additional guest requirements, and use the option of penalty-free cancelations if a guest appears to be suspicious. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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