Many hosts will have enabled Instant Book. For these hosts, the need to respond to reservation requests will not be necessary since guests will be able to book these places provided they meet Airbnb’s Instant Book requirements.
However, guests who do not meet the requirements must still send a reservation request. And for hosts that have not enabled Instant Book, prospective guests will still need to send a reservation request (even if they would have otherwise satisfied the Instant Book requirements).
It is important to understand the difference between a booking inquiry and a reservation request. They are similar, yet different in a few crucial ways:
A booking inquiry is a non-committal message from a guest to a host to inquire about booking specific dates. In response, the host can send a message, pre-approve, send a Special Offer, or decline the dates of the inquiry.
A reservation request is a committed request to stay at a place from a guest to a host for specific dates. In response, the host will need to either accept or decline the request within 24 hours before it expires.
Regardless of whether the guest sends a booking inquiry or reservation request, hosts will receive an email notification advising when either of these are received.
You can compare what each of these email notifications looks like below…
A key distinction between a reservation request and a booking inquiry is the effect each have on your calendar.
If the reservation request is approved, Airbnb will continue to block out the dates as a confirmed trip. Other prospective guests will be unable to submit additional reservation requests for overlapping dates until you have approved or declined the initial request. If the request is declined, Airbnb will free up those dates to again enable you to receive new reservation requests from other prospective guests.
On the other hand, a booking inquiry will not block the desired dates on your calendar, and will allow you to accept other reservation requests that come through after the booking inquiry has been received.
The following illustrates an example of a reservation request for 17 – 20 February. Note the difference in effect that approving or rejecting the reservation has on the calendar for those dates.
If you receive a reservation request, do not allow it to expire as a means of declining it. Respond to all reservation requests within 24 hours, irrespective of whether you choose to accept or decline it. Failure to do so will impact your response rate, which will also negatively affect your placement in future search results.
Since the dates included on a pending reservation request will be automatically blocked on your calendar, other potential guests won’t be able to request them – another reason you’ll want to respond ASAP.
If you receive a booking inquiry and do wish to host the guest, you may want to create a sense of urgency that prompts the prospective guest to act sooner rather than later in an effort to convert the booking inquiry into a confirmed reservation.
Strategies for doing so include advising the prospective guest that you would suggest booking at their first available convenience in light of peak season demand or other inquiries received for overlapping dates.
Remember that it is entirely up to you whether or not to accept a reservation request. The only thing to bear in mind is that declining a high number of reservation requests will adversely impact your placement in search results.
When you receive a booking inquiry or reservation request, in addition to the email notification, you’ll also receive an alert on your Airbnb Dashboard and a notification on your phone (if you’ve downloaded the Airbnb app and/or setup push notifications).
When it comes to responding to reservation requests, your options are:
- Accepting the reservation for the requested dates
- Learning more about the potential guest by sending them a private message (the “response rate” requirement to respond to reservation requests within 24 hours will be satisfied by simply sending a message to the requesting guest)
- Declining the reservation (with the option of providing an explanation to the guest)
- Sending the guest a Special Offer