In what has become a familiar rhythm of biennial comprehensive updates, Airbnb launches the latest version of its platform, described as “the biggest change in Airbnb in a decade”.
In 2021, Airbnb also released widespread revisions in May and again in November.
One of the most interesting updates in the “Summer version of Airbnb 2022” is a feature to split reservations for a stay of at least one week and up to six months between two sites – creating a solution to meet the growing demand for longer stays.
Speaking to financial analysts last week to review the company’s earnings report for the first quarter of 2022, co-founder and CEO Brian Cesky said: “Staying a month or more continues to be our fastest growing category, with triples compared to 2019. And almost half of our nights booked in Q1 were for a week or more, and one in five nights was for a month or more. ”
Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb’s listings accept a stay of 28 days or more, but in some markets demand is ahead of the inventory available for these types of bookings.
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“We have seen that people are struggling to find places that are open for 20, 30, 40 days at a time, especially in markets where we see high demand. So the team came up with this idea – why not have an algorithm that basically helps people find inventory or combine split stays to meet the time frame and length of stay, ”said Tara Bunch, head of global operations. Airbnb, in an interview with PhocusWire.
When the search for a longer stay returns less than 300 properties, Airbnb will automatically offer options to split the stay between two properties that match the type of property and the convenience of the search. The company says this will show up to 40% more listings in limited stocks.
Users can specify how far they are willing to travel between the two places, from two to six hours, view the properties on a map showing the route, and then book them, one after the other, in one booking stream.
The “split stay” feature is also integrated with another feature launched today, called “Airbnb Categories”, which organizes properties based on their style, location or proximity to an activity.
Categories are an extension of the Flexible Destinations tool, launched in May 2021, where the user can select “I’m flexible” in the location field to be presented with home selection options in one of 27 categories. Users will now see 56 categories on the Airbnb homepage on their website and in the app.
Bunch says the goal is to familiarize consumers with the variety of properties available on Airbnb and give them more choices on how to begin their discovery. Those who start by choosing a category can then narrow down the results with dates, location and other filters, such as the average price per night or number of bedrooms.
Style categories include “amazing pools” with one million properties; “Design” with 27,000 properties included in design publications or designed by a renowned architect; and 190 windmills. Location categories include 900,000 properties near the beach, 120,000 near the vineyard and 6,500 inside or near the Arctic Circle. And the categories of activities are related to the suitability of a property for activity – such as skiing, for which there are 400,000 properties.
Airbnb says that to date, four million of its six million properties have been placed in at least one of 56 categories through machine learning systems that have analyzed title, descriptions, photo captions and structured data from hosts and feedback from guests.
Computer vision technology also shows the appropriate leading photo for each property based on the category sought. For example, a home listed in the categories of “Chef’s Kitchen” and “Royal” will show the corresponding photo, depending on how the user finds the property.
Fourteen of the 56 categories also offer the option to split the stay between properties, which means that the user can select the “surf” category and split the stay between properties in two different beach towns.
“It’s an incredibly intelligent algorithm. And the more we build on that, the more we can meet the unique needs of each guest, whatever the criteria, ”says Bunch.
“I think it’s an unlocking of creativity in travel that we may not have seen in a long time.”
As part of these latest updates, Airbnb provides a range of guest warranties. The protections are part of Airbnb’s AirCover program, which launched in November with host protections.
Now, extending it to guests, Airbnb says it’s “the biggest upgrade to Airbnb’s customer service in a decade.”
Guarantees include a promise to find such a home or a refund if the host cancels the stay within 30 days of check-in; if the guest cannot be accommodated in the property; or if the property is not as declared.
Airbnb has also set up a 24-hour communication line, available in 16 languages through the app and on its website, which employs agents trained to solve problems and help with re-booking if needed.
“You’ll see a big red” get help “button. … Every time you need help from us, you press that “get help” button and you’re admitted to, in essence, a support flow that includes interactions with people and messages, “says Bunch.
“It’s really a more proactive approach to getting help for our guests when a problem arises. It’s rare … but we feel that when it happens, it can really be acute if we don’t lean back and take care of it quickly. “
Airbnb’s revenue reached $ 1.5 billion in January-March for the first time in the company’s history. The US-based housing and alternative accommodation giant saw revenue increase 70% year-on-year, 80% higher than in the corresponding quarter of 2019 ($ 839 million), before it was listed on public markets.