Holidaylettings.co.uk has started a pilot that allows selected owners to take bookings without the need for confirming. This allows renters to receive an instant confirmation of their booking, rather than needing to wait for the owner to respond to the booking request.
Holiday Lettings assumes the availability of the owner's property is up to date and if so, provides a booking option to the prospective renter for available dates. The owner gets notified of the booking via email and has the option to cancel the booking. However, owners who exercise this option more than once are likely to be excluded from the pilot.
Clearly, this is another step is making the experience of booking a holiday rental as easy as booking a hotel online. There are obvious benefits for the renter, plus is means that owners are less likely to lose out on bookings just because they are away from the email for a couple of days ( or even hours in some cases!). Also, bookings received this way are, by definition, at the list price, so there is no pesky negotiation of rates.
Of course, there are downsides. For example, if you manage your property on multiple listing sites, then there is a possibility of double booking.
This is currently being run as a pilot and I have signed my property up to be included. However, so far I have not received any bookings, so it's too early to say how it's working.
Providing additional services like this obviously benefits Holiday Lettings both in maximising their commissions on bookings, as well as encouraging owners to make Holiday Lettings their primary ( or only) source of online bookings. However, piloting makes a lot of sense to see how it works in practice before taking it too far.