63 Replies Latest reply: Apr 3, 2019 5:32 PM by margaret RSS

    Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?

    amanda_ha HomeAway Employee

      Hi Everyone!

       

      Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property? These partners did - here's what they had to say. Ready to give it a try yourself? Log into your dashboard and enable it now - you can switch back any time!

       

       

       

       

      What are your experiences with Instant Booking?

       

      Thank you,

       

      Amanda | HomeAway Marketing Manager

        • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
          feibus Senior Contributor

          My situation is one where I have a family-oriented market, a resort with 24/7 security, and on-site management and check-in that verifies the user has a valid photo ID that matches their contract info... so my booking process needs are minimal.  However, I was still initially hesitant to do instant booking.  After about 15 24-hour bookings, I realized I wasn't finding any guests who were raising red flags, so I went ahead and changed over.  And my experience with my situation is that it helps, although not as much, since I still have post-booking needs that require that I follow up with guests immediately to get their information and signed rental agreement, so there are still some limitations to having IB.

           

          Bottom line: IB streamlines the process for the guest more than it does for me.

           

          If I had a place in a rain forest, I'd hesitate like crazy to just let anyone book without first talking to them to make sure they were a good match for my home's unique location.

          • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
            u0999 Premier Contributor

            Dear Amanda, since HA changes have "fractured" the market, most owners are now listed on 2-6 platforms ( not just single VRBO/HA as it used to be, because not one platform by itself brings enough bookings). and each platform is vying to be instant bookable. Each owner should exercise good judgement ad only enable IB on platforms that are most active. As we know there is no instant sync ( I have seen 30 min delays syncing) and if every platform has IB enabled, there can be double bookings. 

            • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
              hmmmm Senior Contributor

              From an old timers perspective and located in an area that can be explosive with the wrong group, instant booking is reckless and has gotten us in a situation where the city is redrafting rules to ban again.

               

              VR's are not hotels, where they have on site security.

               

              VR's that are not properly vetted in our city, are causing all the problems.  Fast buck, don't care about the neighbors etc etc etc.

               

              I think the whole, fill a bed mentality, might ruin the business as a whole in our city.


              I for one, find the whole philosophy , who cares who books and their intentions, all wrong. Making money with out regards to community as whole.

               

              Remember rarely does any one read the website before booking, so vetting first before booking does work or helps.

               

              Instant is the problem, vetting is the solution

              • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                I appreciate the viewpoint of the persons that were interviewed for this video.

                 

                I will never instant book my properties.

                 

                I will remain on 24 hour response, even though I have only turned away perhaps 1 or 2 BIN guests a year as not being suitable for my properties.  I also believe that because I am not instant book, I get more requests for information from guests.  Probably 50% of those requests do not book because they are not a good fit for the property that they have inquired about.  As an example, the recent inquirer who took exception to my having an onsite security resident.  I guess they decided that my home was not a good place for the party/event/reception/wedding/blowout that they intended to throw.

                • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                  familyfirst Contributor

                  The IB people I know where I live tend to be the desperate ones for rentals, please forgive me for saying it out loud. They don't vet which I think can harm their neighbors and ultimately themselves and their ability to rent in the future. Renters don't read. I am one of them. I thought I booked a home with tv's in each bedroom once but none had them....whose fault is that? Mine but at first I blamed the management for not disclosing it. I should have asked, even though I read the ad many times. Renters miss things. The higher-end ones should never. Even when I book a hotel, I will want some type of communication with a question or two with the management. I agree about the calendars's syncing. And I wouldn't want someone to IB while I was sleeping and have a mess to deal with in the morning, I'll tell you that much.

                    • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                      familyfirst wrote:

                       

                      The IB people I know where I live tend to be the desperate ones for rentals, please forgive me for saying it out loud. They don't vet which I think can harm their neighbors and ultimately themselves and their ability to rent in the future. Renters don't read. I am one of them. I thought I booked a home with tv's in each bedroom once but none had them....whose fault is that? Mine but at first I blamed the management for not disclosing it. I should have asked, even though I read the ad many times. Renters miss things. The higher-end ones should never. Even when I book a hotel, I will want some type of communication with a question or two with the management. I agree about the calendars's syncing. And I wouldn't want someone to IB while I was sleeping and have a mess to deal with in the morning, I'll tell you that much.

                      There are many responsible owners who use IB some who are members of this community. I am one of them and I can assure you I am certainly not desperate for rentals! I have done quite well in my 9+ yrs running my VRs. I have had for the most part wonderful guests, have many repeats and have never had a major problem arise over these past 9 years. I vet all of my guests, have my RA signed and returned with a copy of a gov issued photo ID, I require age 25 or older to rent and have a strictly enforce max occupancy.  I do NOT harm my neighbors, myself or my ability to rent.

                        • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                          hmmmm Senior Contributor

                          Margaret,

                          You and other owners like you are not what she means.

                           

                          I think what she means is what we deal with and what  our community of San Diego hates....The un-responsible owner who wants a fast buck.

                          Buys a rental with the only intention of making a fast buck.

                          He/she is not available for issues and could care less about the business or the neighbors.  They will move on shortly to some other fast buck operation.

                          The ease of IB has led to a group who are hands off, hence the problem.  Its certainly not you and owners of quality and integrity like you.


                          Many owners are not like this but some of the newer ones who have started renting over the last few years are a whole new breed.

                           

                          I wish HomeAway would offer a better set up if they want Instant booking....

                          I want to know for my acceptance:

                          1. State or country they reside
                          2. A real review and ability to read their reviews of other owners

                          and any other information that does not interfere with Homeaway getting their service fee.

                           

                          Having someone in your home is a very serious proposition with many legal implications.

                            • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                              familyfirst Contributor

                              thank you for explaining because that is exactly what I meant. The IB model that homes use in my area are not maintained well and have at least a few bad reviews on service, maintenance and poor customer service when they get there. OR the owner has bad reviews of them.  OR the owners have MANY different agencies advertising for them HENCE double booking has happened to these homes in my area. That is what you get with an IB model.

                               

                              Why would anyone want to allow someone to instant book? My guess in my area is that someone told them that they can get more bookings and it could be cheaper? It feel likes a "deal", like a special rate or something.

                               

                              To me, it makes a property less desirable. I want a place that doesn't give their house to just anyone, I want to feel as if they choose me. Does that make sense? I'm picky and if the owner is not picky who rents from them, I would avoid that property.

                        • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                          u0999 Premier Contributor

                          In order to have more owners to agree to IB, I would think HA could make it more attractive to the owners by:

                           

                          1. taking responsibility/ helping enforce house/ occupancy/age rules.

                          2. integrating e-signing of rental agreements as a part of check out process (with important paragraphs requiring initialing).

                          3. having guests really "verified" - not that just have an email address.. but that the guests have uploaded their valid Photo ID prior to booking.

                          4. Ensuring that name on the booking = name on the method of payment/credit card = name on the ID in #3

                          5. allow owners to set parameters for instant book (like, I do not want IB within 3 days of check in date or more than 12 months). Right now option exists but not flexible enough

                          edited to add #6: Owner need to see reviews of guests (and not just stars) BEFORE they book. But if HA insists on IB, then only guests with at least several (say 3-4) 4- and 5- star reviews should be able to Instant Book. Your competition is ahead of you in that respect.

                          Hope this helps 

                          • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                            wildiris Active Contributor

                            I understand why IB is attractive to some guests.  It makes guests think that booking a vacation rental is like booking a hotel.  Most important - it can make guests think that staying at a vacation rental is like staying at a hotel.  It's not.  Staying at my vacation home is not like staying at a hotel.  There are greater benefits but also greater responsibilities on the part of the guest.  I don't want any of my guests to have a false impression of what is required of them to book and stay at my vacation home.  That's why I won't use IB.

                            • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                              koko Contributor

                              The concept of Instant Booking sounds like Instant coffee

                              watery, non de script and generally bad tasting.

                              I do not give my guests instant coffee, nor instant booking - well at least not the same day kind deal.

                              I let a customer service representative talk me into turning on the 7 day deal which immediately resulted in a booking on the same day people are checking out after a two week stay. I called the new guests to see of they could move a day, no they could not because of airplane tickets and the ones staying were in the same boat.

                              So all guests being "immovable" I have to clean a whole house within 4 hours and was told by customer service that it is all my fault because my check in and check out times are too close together - they were established at a time when I booked people in the next day at the earliest, just to give the place a chance to air out.

                              Instant cleaning is a feature not even Home Away has mastered - how come?

                              • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                patpat Contributor

                                How many times do we have to say "no" to IB when we don't want it? I tried it on one of my properties after being talked into it. I didn't like the concept of it, but was willing to give it a try. It didn't work out well. The whole time I had it, (about 4 months) I only had 1 booking in the very beginning. The moment I took IB off, I started getting a lot of bookings. So I will never use IB again, and I'm tired of being asked if I have ever thought about IB every time I need to talk to CS. So is there anyway vrbo/homeaway can stop trying to sell me on it??

                                • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                  familyfirst Contributor

                                  i agree, please ask CS and all emails sent to us, to stop asking us to IB with every communication?  Once I actually speak with a rep, they agree with me that I shouldn't IB. It's my home but these are several million dollars each....I will never allow instant booking. Train wrecks can happen. I agree that just having an name, no FB profile, nothing to see where they live hurts us owners because we can't screen them before accepting them, even with the 24 hour time frame. Friends of mine received retaliatory reviews from IB, like I wrote above, the renters click before they read. I've seen IB people look for reviews of a property AFTER they book it. And then I think, what kind of person does IB? I am curious if your team could do research on that? Are they young? Single? Married?

                                  • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                    amanda_ha HomeAway Employee

                                    Hi familyfirst and patpat,

                                     

                                    I can definitely let Customer Support know that this is a frustration of yours and see if they might have a way to notate that they have already spoken with a partner about Instant Booking.

                                     

                                    Thank you,

                                    Amanda

                                    HomeAway Marketing Manager

                                    • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                      floridarob Active Contributor

                                      I want to thank many of the owners who have responded to this thread. Your comments have been most eloquent, and in some cases captured very well the unique benefits of vacation rentals vs. hotels, something which Instant Booking does tend to ignore.

                                       

                                      My own experience with instant booking has been this; it made absolutely ZERO difference in my bookings. I have two properties, very similar, and within two blocks of each other. One gets booked more than the other. I put the one with less bookings on Instant Booking as an experiment. NO difference in booking. Zilch, nyada, nothing, zero change. So all of the claims of HomeAway that Instant Bookings equals more bookings have, at least in my experience, proven to be false.

                                       

                                      While my property has been on instant booking, I have not noticed that the quality of guests that I end up with is any different than it might otherwise be. There is, in my experience, no difference between an instant booking guest, and a guest booking within the last four weeks prior to arrival. The very act of booking last minute defines the customer as being someone who is far more 'hotel' oriented and less vacation rental oriented. People who care about WHERE they stay don't leave it to last minute. They take their time, investigate, and look at lots of properties before finally choosing mine. I see in my dashboard where guests looked at 20 to 30 properties before finally settling on mine. The messages I get with my reservation requests tell me that they aren't really panicked about an instant booking response after investing so much time seeking me out.

                                       

                                      I have had guests book dates quite far out through instant booking. When one is booking 8 months in advance, I don't really think being able to have your answer back instantly as opposed to within 24 hours really makes any difference at all. It is nice to know you have a place, but really... it is not nearly as big a deal as HomeAway makes it out to be.

                                       

                                      I feel that in pursuing Instant Booking as they do, HomeAway is trying to educate owners about why they should do it, but is missing out on the opportunity to educate guests about what a vacation rental is, and what makes it different from a hotel. And in that case, the guests are the ones that lose out, because they really aren't experiencing the true vacation rental experience, which includes building a relationship with the owner (or manager, but usually owner) of the property, and understanding that the guest has a 'friend' who has their back and cares with individual attention about the quality of their stay. It is a concierge type of service that distinguishes vacation rentals from hotels, particular the chains where often warm bodies are hired to fill customer service positions because that is all they are prepared to pay for and attract to work there.

                                       

                                      HomeAway gives the appearance of trying to remove the owner out of the equation as much as possible. This is really sad, when if they truly understood what they were selling and what its biggest benefits are, they would be promoting the owner guest relationship instead of trying to eliminate it. Instant booking doesn't support giving guests a chance to experience and enjoy that relationship with the owner. It interferes with it.

                                       

                                      Why take one of the biggest selling points vacation rentals have, the owners, and try to minimize it, when every bit of marketing intelligence available says that customers want and will pay much more for high-touch, high service, authentic experiences?  Authenticity comes from unique personal relationships. Instantly bookable properties sans committed owner are certainly not that.

                                      • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                        floridarob Active Contributor

                                        Could you imagine if this is how 'Instant Booking' was presented?

                                         

                                        "Dear Cherished HomeOwners;

                                         

                                        We have created a new classification for guests on the site. These are people that we have complete identification, credit and background checks on. We have confirmed that they are indeed the people that they represent themselves to be, and won't be using stolen credit cards or be engaged in other fraudulent activity. When these guests book, we collect complete information on their party; all guest names, ages, home address and contact information, and we provide it all to you, along with a physically signed commitment from the guest to honour your terms and conditions that will easily stand up in court.

                                         

                                        Having placed these guests through such rigorous scrutiny, we would like you to accept Instant Bookings from them.

                                         

                                        In return for doing so, we will grant you 100% protection from chargebacks, cancellations, damage or loss to your property, and pay any costs involved in matters of any type of liability (HOA rules violations, parties, damages to neighbours, or reputation, etc.). We have created a special insurance program for this class of guest, which protects you 100%, including loss of income coverage. We guarantee that you will not suffer any kind of loss for accepting guests who qualify for our Instant Booking program, and have posted a $1,000,000 bond to protect you. Claims under this program for violation of guest policy will be adjudicated by a panel made up of seven quality owners with no less than seven years industry experience and a record of providing high quality guest experiences.

                                         

                                        We feel that this program will allow you to accept guests in confidence, knowing that they have been adequately pre-screened, and that you can welcome them into your homes confident that both you and these special guests will have a great experience, at no risk of loss to yourself or your property.

                                         

                                        Would you be interested in joining our new Instant Booking Program?"

                                         

                                        And my response would be; "Are you kidding? I would actually PAY to join a program like that!"

                                        • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                          floridarob Active Contributor

                                          Everything real created by man (or woman) started out as a dream in someone's mind!

                                          • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                            crabbincabin New Member

                                            I have just started to experiment with Instant Booking and it does seem to attract more travelers.

                                             

                                            I haven't found any templates that go out with those bookings.  I'd like to customize to add text about returning the rental contract, etc.

                                             

                                            Also, I have noticed that when I get notified about the instant booking it does NOT include the note that the travelers include about themselves.  I have to log in in order to see that.  Seems strange since we get all other notes in emails.

                                             

                                            Am I missing something?

                                             

                                            Jenn

                                            • Re: Wondering if you should try Instant Booking for your property?
                                              crabbincabin New Member

                                              Doesn't it seem like a glitch that we are not getting the note from the traveler with the email notifying us of an instant booking?  Any plans to fix this?