Make the most of Airbnb’s pre-booking message feature
What brings you to the area? Who are you coming with? When do you think you’ll arrive? Airbnb hosts have a number of questions swirling through their minds when they receive a booking. And many hosts take the opportunity to get to know their potential guests by asking these questions before guests book instantly. It’s not required, of course, but adding questions to a pre-booking message can help drum up more information about potential guests, simplify the booking process, and ensure a great relationship with guests from the start.
Later this month, Airbnb is launching an improved feature: pre-booking message. It’s a better way for hosts to add a greeting and ask all of the questions you want before guests book instantly. (You’ll have plenty of room, too, because we’ve increased the character count. And if you currently use welcome message, there’s no need to change anything.) Your potential guests will read your message while they’re booking, and be able to respond to your questions before confirming their reservation.
Here are some ways to make the most of Airbnb’s pre-booking message feature.
5 pre-booking message tips from fellow hosts
1. Start by thanking your potential guest
- “I think it's a good way to build trust and a way to encourage a good stay,” says Juan, Medellín, Colombia.
- “I always thank them for their booking request and ask them to ensure they have read the listing details and House Rules carefully for suitability.” —Kath, Albany, Australia
- “Warm greetings! I welcome you to this space that I take care of with affection. It’s a place of well-being and for those of you who like to connect with nature.
- What brings you to this area?
- Who are you traveling with?
- What time do you think you will arrive?
- Why do you want to stay in the cottage?" —Juan, Medellín, Colombia
- “We're excited for your stay, and we’d like to know:
- What's bringing you to Durham?
- What time can we commit with you for check-in?
- Who is traveling with you?
- If you plan on taking breakfast with us, do you have any dietary considerations we need to be aware?
- Do you have any questions about the House Rules? We look forward to hearing from you!” —Alice and Jeff, Durham, North Carolina
2. Ask about what’s most important
Think about the one thing that would make a great (or not-so-great) stay for you and your guests, and ask them about it in your pre-booking message, like these hosts do:
- “The most important question for me is: What brings you to the area? This helps me better prepare for their visit. If they are coming to visit a destination two hours away from my town, I want to help them understand the distance and the drive time. If they are coming to celebrate an anniversary or something special, I want to congratulate them and leave them something small. If they are coming for a local event, I might give them a tip or recommend a good place for dinner afterwards.” —Emilia, Orono, Maine
- “I ask them what time they are arriving (super important) and reiterate my earliest check-in time, adding that every Airbnb is different and not like a hotel.” —Ange, New York City
3. Invite guests to reread the listing and House Rules
When writing your pre-booking message, take the opportunity to remind guests of any crucial listing details they may have missed. “I put myself in the guest’s shoes,” French host Marie Line says. “Sometimes we are so happy to have found the apartment of our dreams that we hurry to reserve it—I once booked an apartment without realizing sheets weren’t provided! So, I think if the hosts had invited me to read their listing again, I wouldn't have made that kind of mistake." Other hosts offer these suggestions:
- “I remind them about the three floors with no elevator, which some people have discovered when they arrive!” —Beatrice, Annecy, France
- “I warn them about the potential lack of water at night due to limited service in the area and offer to collect water if they need it.” —Juan, Medellín, Colombia
- “I ask them if they understood that I live in an inner city area that can be scruffy in parts.” —Helen, Bristol, England
- “I ask them if they understand the apartment setting and clear the view with them, as we have both lake- and garden-view apartments.” —Ana, Ohrid, Macedonia
- “I also remind them of the House Rules regarding no smoking, no pets, no parties and no more than six people allowed to stay at the property. I explain that this information will help me determine if our listing is a good fit for their group.” —Linda and Richard, San Antonio, Texas
4. Get to know your guests
To customize your hospitality and let guests know you care, hosts recommend asking questions like these:
- “I ask if they are coffee drinkers—medium or dark roast—and if they are, I pick up some freshly-roasted coffee prior to their arrival. If there is any construction happening in the neighborhood, I disclose it prior to accepting the booking. If guests are bringing a car, I discourage it because of parking restrictions, cost, and traffic. Finally, I mention our No. 1 tourist attraction and tell my guests to buy a ticket at least two months in advance. This way, they realize I'm thinking of their needs even prior to their arrival.” —Donna, San Francisco
- “Every time I book, I ask the guests the same questions and about children: What time will you arrive? How many beds do you want? Do you need a cot or high chair?” —Jean-Pierre, Monès, France
- “We live in a small farming and tourist town, so I always ask guests if they have been to our town before. If not, I will offer some info on restaurants and hours of operation as well as local amenities. I always help guests plan their activities if needed.” —Daphne, Montagu, South Africa
5. Showcase your hosting style
Some hosts ask a lot of pre-booking questions while others ask none. Hosts recommend reflecting your hosting style—whether it be laid-back or strict—when you’re asking questions in your pre-booking message. This will also help guests determine if it’s the right fit:
- “I ask no questions at all. I would feel very inconsiderate if I asked the purpose of the trip. Since the guests do not live with me in an apartment, it is none of my business.” —Ilona, Torremolinos, Spain
- “Most of my guests are pretty informative in their booking request, but if their initial message is brief, I'll ask these mandatory questions:
- Have you thoroughly read through the entire listing description, scrolling through to the bottom to read House Rules?
- Are you prepared to abide by the House Rules and be respectful of the accommodation?
- Have you asked any questions you may have before committing to a booking?
- Do you understand the importance of communicating your ETA and if you for some reason can't arrive at that time, will you please let us know in a timely manner?
- Will you thoroughly read your itinerary after your booking is confirmed, making sure dates and number of guests are correct and noting door codes and other arrival information?” —Sarah, Sayulita, Mexico
- “I don't like to bombard a guest with questions in my first communication, although I totally understand hosts who may want more info. The only thing I request is the full names of all guests (including doggy guests!). It's been my experience not to be necessarily concerned or worried about guests who don't volunteer more info—different people have different communication styles.” —Suzanne, North Carolina
Once you’ve saved your pre-booking message, potential guests will automatically receive it when they book instantly. Creating a pre-booking message once will help simplify the booking process, give you more peace of mind, and let guests know they have a wonderful stay ahead.
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.