As a luxury property manager, you need a high degree of control over who views and books your properties.

You’re looking for a certain kind of guest. You have to screen them, verify their credentials, and ensure they meet the high standards of your luxury accommodations.

But you don’t have to sacrifice conversions and revenue for that to happen.

With the Request to Book feature—now available on major OTA’s like Airbnb, Vrbo and—the potential guest can send a reservation proposal. Instead of instantly booking a property.

So you have the flexibility to accept or decline the request. Without worrying about paying a cancellation fee. Or risking bad guests, damages to the property, and negative reviews that could harm your reputation. 

In this blog, you’ll read about how the Request to Book feature works. And how it helps you diversify your income stream while still showing your property to the right people.

We’ll also discuss some recent findings on high-value bookings made through OTAs that might surprise you. And encourage you to experience the benefits of OTAs for yourself.

What Are Booking Requests?

When making a booking request, a potential guest sends an inquiry to the host. This often includes:

  • Their reason for traveling
  • Who they’re traveling with 
  • What they love about the space 
  • Agreeing to property rules and payment terms (like acknowledging that they’ll be charged for any damages to the rental)

They then pick their desired dates and submit a request through the platform’s booking system.

Once you receive this request, the ball’s in your court. You can go over their profile and see if they’re suitable. Then, you have the flexibility to approve or decline their request.

The time you have to respond to the request varies between platforms. But it’s usually 24 hours. If you don’t respond to the request in that time, it’s automatically declined.

Which Channels Offer Request to Book?

Request to Book was previously most commonly found on specialist luxury channels. Like Villa Finder, Smiling House, and Kid & Coe.

But in the last few years, major OTA’s have taken note of its potential for luxury properties. 

Airbnb,, and Vrbo all now offer Request to Book as an option. 

And the results are clear. In 2023 we saw some of our highest-value bookings made through these channels. For example:

  • Airbnb has secured bookings totaling over €300,000
  • VRBO has achieved bookings totaling over €240,000
  • has garnered bookings totaling over €78,000

This data might be surprising, but it’s a trend that’s showing no signs of stopping over the last year.

5 Benefits of Accepting Booking Requests

There are some of the major benefits that come with using a Request to Book system. Rather than only offering instant booking options. Let’s dive into them:

1. More Control Over Your Calendar

The main appeal of booking requests is the increased control it gives you over your rental calendar. With instant bookings, anyone can book any available dates without your prior approval.

However, with requests, you can carefully evaluate each inquiry and choose whether or not to accept based on factors like:

  • Pricing: you might receive requests at suboptimal rates during high-demand periods. A request system lets you hold out for more profitable bookings.
  • Guest profile: Screen potential guests and decline ones deemed unsuitable or high-risk based on profile information
  • Double bookings: Avoid accidentally accepting overlapping requests from different guests for the same period. This is especially useful in luxury property management where you might accept private or direct bookings as well as bookings through channels.

Finally, this feature lets you list your properties on major OTA’s, boosting your property’s exposure, and revenue potential, without compromising its exclusivity.

2. Chance to Review Guests

With the Instant Book feature, you can’t communicate with prospective guests before they confirm their booking. So you’re in the dark about who’s coming and why.

But with the Request to Book option, that’s no longer the case. 

The process varies channel by channel. But generally, people may have to provide additional details upfront. Like:

  • Purpose of stay
  • Number and profile of guests
  • Specific needs and requests
  • Why they’ve chosen the property

You can use this information to decide if the guests are a good fit for your property. 

You can also check out previous hosts’ reviews, ask follow-up questions to screen for red flags, and understand the guests’ expectations. So you can deliver a better experience.

3. Control Over Length of Stay

Hosts can specify minimum and maximum nights for online instant bookings. However, for some listings, this may be restrictive.

For example, setting a minimum stay of one week might deter guests who are looking for a quick weekend getaway. On the other hand, a maximum stay limit might prevent longer-term bookings.

This can make it harder to fill the calendar consistently.

But when you use the Request to Book option, you can consider each guest’s needs and be more flexible with stay requirements. So you can still capture bookings that fall outside preset length of stay rules.

4. Avoid Double Bookings

Many luxury property managers often make the majority of their bookings directly. So their OTA calendars might not always be up to date.

With the instant booking option, there’s a chance someone might book a date that’s already been reserved through a private or direct booking.

The booking request system helps reduce the risk of accidentally accepting overlapping reservations from different guests for the same period. 

That’s because requested dates are temporarily blocked until approved (or declined).

5. Updates Guests on Availability

During high season, rental calendars can fill up quickly. With a booking request system, guests are updated on availability before being able to complete reservations. 

This avoids having guests go through the booking process only to find dates unavailable at checkout. It makes a smoother, more transparent booking experience.

3 Possible Drawbacks of Booking Requests

A booking request system can also have some potential downsides you should be aware of:

1. Introduces Uncertainty

Perhaps the biggest drawback of booking requests is that it leaves both hosts and guests in limbo until a confirmation decision is made. 

This uncertainty and waiting can frustrate guests eager to book a property quickly.

But you can remedy this by responding to requests within hours of receiving them.

Pro tip: With Rentals United, you can view and approve (or decline) all your booking requests in your Guest Planner view. Making it easier to see and compare booking requests.

2. Requires Hands-On Management

Tracking requests, responding promptly, updating calendars, negotiating rates, and screening guests takes active effort. Especially during peak seasons. 

This hands-on workload can be challenging for hosts or luxury property managers with multiple properties. 

3. Potential Loss of Revenue

Being selective with bookings might result in higher rejection rates. Potentially leading to unbooked dates, especially during peak times when travelers may opt for quicker, more readily confirmed options.

However, if you’re thinking about using OTAs and luxury channels alongside your direct booking methods, this mix can help cover any gaps in bookings and keep your occupancy steady.

Best Practices for Managing Booking Requests

Here are some actionable tips to keep in mind if you want to leverage the benefits of requests while minimizing drawbacks:

  • Set expectations upfront: Clearly outline your booking process and policies in your listing descriptions. Specify what information you need from guests and any unique requirements or house rules they should be aware of before booking. This helps ensure guests know what to expect and can reduce misunderstandings later on.
  • Share response times: Provide expected response times so guests know when they might hear back about their booking request.
  • Block time for follow-ups: Designate time slots to monitor and respond to new requests at least once a day, if not more frequently, during peak season.
  • Update calendars frequently: Update availability calendars across all connected platforms to avoid double bookings.
  • Invest in a luxury channel manager: The right luxury channel manager will get the right eyes on your property, and help you diversify your revenue streams without compromising the quality or exclusivity of your offering.

Is a Booking Request System Right for Your Rental?

Booking requests provide hosts with more control and open up the possibility of listing luxury properties on OTAs.But they can add complexity. To determine if requests are the right fit, you need to evaluate whether the flexibility outweighs the additional management.

Here are some factors to consider:

Booking Requests may be better for:

  • Luxury home and property managers who require a high degree of control over guest selection 
  • Owners with multiple properties
  • Property managers renting out unique, high-demand properties
  • Property managers who want to screen all potential guests carefully
  • Owners with complex calendar coordination needs
  • Luxury property managers that want to list on more channels and increase revenue

Instant Booking may be preferable for:

  • Casual hosts renting out just one property
  • Hosts who prioritize quick and efficient booking processes
  • New hosts building up reviews and credibility
  • Hosts managing listings with very high availability

The right approach also depends on factors like:

  • Property type: Instant booking works better for standardized properties like condos. Unique, high-end properties benefit more from tailored requests.
  • Market conditions: In high-demand markets with scarce supply, requests allow for selectivity. In oversaturated areas, instant booking may secure more bookings.
  • Target guest segment: Request screening helps avoid issues with parties or high-risk guests. For families or business travelers, instant booking provides more convenience.
  • Seasonality: During peak seasons, requests allow rate optimization. During off-seasons, instant booking can fill vacancies.

Take the time to evaluate your specific needs and situation to determine whether accepting booking requests would benefit you. This may vary across different properties in your portfolio.

Stay Exclusive and Diversify Your Income with Rentals United, the No.1 Luxury Channel Manager

As luxury homeowners and property managers, having the option to say “no” to a booking is a must. Because finding trustworthy guests is just as much of a priority as maximizing revenue.

Booking requests, a feature now available on major OTAs like Airbnb, Vrbo, and, add a layer between initial guest interest and confirmed bookings. Letting you reject bookings if the guest’s profile isn’t a match.

This extra control allows more luxury property managers to list their properties on OTAs. 

The feature can introduce some additional complexity compared to instant bookings. For example, it requires more hands-on management and can slow down the booking process.

But with the right approach, and the right luxury channel manager, booking requests can be a valuable channel for securing more profitable bookings.

In fact, in 2023, our highest-value bookings came from Airbnb, Vrbo, and

Rentals United partners with 20+ of the finest luxury channels and offers the best Request-to-Book connections to OTAs. In 2023, we generated over €200M in revenue for our luxury property managers and connected more than 16,000 luxury properties.

Speak to our expert team today to learn how we can help!