The online vacation rental industry relied mostly on requests for reservations for a very long period. The hope was that at least some of the properties would be open when guests inquired about them. Some of the managers would respond by stating that the space was already reserved. Others would not respond at all. Some would reply and confirm the property was available, and then emails would be sent back and forth until an agreement was reached.
The guest would often pay the remaining balance in cash upon arrival after signing a contract (sometimes with a deposit transferred to the manager’s bank account). A small portion of these reservations were scams, and the customers lost their money. A lot of property managers wasted time on visitors who ultimately chose to stay at one of the other places they had contacted. Then Airbnb appeared. Bookings for requests could suddenly be made securely through online payment. The conversion rate was low and there was still a lot of waiting, but it mostly worked.
Those days are long gone. More and more sales channels and online travel agents are moving away from request booking and towards an instant booking only model. But why? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of instant booking and request booking vacation rentals, and break down exactly why the winds of change are blowing firmly in the direction of instant booking.
Difference between instant booking and request booking vacation rentals?
Request booking – A visitor sends a request by email or via a form on a website for vacation rentals. After receiving this request, the property manager has a finite amount of time (often approximately 24 hours) to accept or reject it. If they accept, the reservation is secured and payments may be made. They must look elsewhere if they turn down the request. The property calendar on many websites would then be blocked, preventing anyone else from making a reservation during those times.
Instant booking on the other hand happens immediately. A visitor finds a property they like, fills out the reservation form, and boom – holiday booked. As you could expect, this is much more well-liked by visitors.
Most of the Guests prefer instant booking, Why ?
To put it simply, rapid booking greatly eliminates the hassle of making travel arrangements. It’s crucial that they receive a response right away because guests frequently schedule flights and other forms of transportation at the same time as lodging. Request bookings can be really inconvenient for the guest, who has dedicated some time to booking their holiday and doesn’t want to have to repeat the process the next day if that request gets rejected. If they’re torn between two properties, one with instant booking and one with request booking, why would they delay the process and risk missing out on both properties?
Is instant booking actually better for property managers?
Simply said, absolutely. When searching for properties, your potential guest may have more than one tab open on their computer or smartphone in addition to your listing, and as was already noted, guests will always choose an instant booking over a request booking. A lot of visitors will also send ten or more queries to various properties at once in the hopes that at least one will respond.
That’s assuming they even see the request booking properties – sales channels are realising that request booking properties simply do not perform as well as instant booking, so they often appear lower down in search results, if they appear at all. A growing number of rentals websites are refusing to host request booking properties, and most already give guests the option of filtering these out so that they only see instant booking options.
Why don’t all property managers use instant booking?
Although we are here praising fast booking, hardly everyone actually uses it. While some property managers may be constrained by the conditions of their rental agreement, others may be quite content with a request booking model. Even if the industry is moving more and more toward an instant-only model, there are still good reasons to continue with request booking. You might be in charge of a property, for instance, but you can’t schedule dates without the owner’s consent. These conditions still exist, though fewer and fewer property managers are signing them these days because they cause so many needless hassles.
Or you might be concerned about cancellation fees, so prefer to be able to approve all bookings so that you feel confident that your property is actually available. This is especially true of newbie property managers who haven’t got routines in place yet for keeping their calendar up to date or ensuring seasonal rates are set correctly.
Switch to instant booking
If your calendar is regularly updated and your listing information (including price) is accurate, you should have no trouble using instant booking and boosting your booking potential. Not everyone prefers instant bookings. But as more and more property managers are learning, it’s crucial to make the guest booking experience as simple as possible in order to retain customers and avoid losing them to rivals. By using instant booking, you almost ten times improve the exposure of your ad and the possibility that it will be booked. Additionally, a smooth booking process gives your visitors a positive first impression of you and your establishment, which is crucial for any successful trip!
Instant booking reduces a significant amount of the hassle of booking a vacation. Guests are often juggling flights and transportation at the same time as booking their accommodation, so it’s really important that they get an answer now. Plus, pretty much every consumer activity is automated nowadays, from purchasing a television to setting up a bank account – so why should booking a vacation be any different. Request bookings can be really inconvenient for the guest, who has dedicated some time to booking their holiday and doesn’t want to have to repeat the process the next day if that request gets rejected.
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