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Airbnb Drops a Ton of Platform Changes for Summer

Inspired by the major shift in how people are traveling and anticipating the unprecedented travel rebound, we are today introducing more than 100 upgrades to refine and improve every aspect of the Airbnb service, from our website and app to our community support and policies. The Airbnb 2021 Release adds features to give guests even more flexibility when planning their travel and to make it simple for anyone to become a Host.

“We are seeing three fundamental shifts in travel as people become less tethered and more flexible,” said Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb. “People can travel anytime, they are traveling to more places, and they are staying longer. The lines between travel, living, and working are blurring, and we are upgrading our service to make it easier for people to integrate travel into their lives and for more people to become Hosts.”

I’m Flexible

Flexibility is at the heart of a new, improved browsing and booking experience. They introduced three new ways to search on Airbnb today — Flexible Dates, Flexible Matching, and Flexible Destinations.

Flexible Dates, which started rolling out in February, makes it easy to find the best places to stay if you are flexible on when you go. Rather than searching with fixed dates, you can search for a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation, or even a month-long stay. Since launching the tool, Airbnb has already seen over 100 million searches using it.

Flexible Matching offers a wider selection of listing results when you search for a place to stay by surfacing homes just outside of your search parameters. This way, you never miss out on a great stay that falls just outside what was specified in a search—for example, if you were searching for a beachfront home and set the max price per night at $250, we would still show options priced just above this.

Flexible Destinations is a new way to plan trips when finding a unique place to stay is more important to you than traveling to a specific destination. It helps you discover incredible properties in places you might not have thought to search for and adapts to your location. For instance, it surfaces ryokans in Japan, trullos in Italy, or castles in Spain. From adobe houses to wagons, Airbnb has over 170,000 one-of-a-kind properties to choose from, and the number of searches for these unique listings has grown 94 percent so far in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

We are also significantly improving our search capabilities to help people find their ideal place to stay. New filters will adapt to the season or location and allow people to search for homes near points of interest, such as national parks, or with particular attributes such as whether the property has an ocean view or whether a fireplace is gas or wood-burning.

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Making it Easier to Host

Today, we are making it even easier to become a Host with a brand new onboarding process that has been simplified from dozens of steps to just 10, supported by the latest technologies. Computer vision deep-learning models automatically arrange photos based on their guest appeal, while smart text suggestions help Hosts craft the best title and description for their listing.

In the U.S., an integration with publicly available real estate data auto-fills details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Help is just a click away throughout the process. Streamlining and simplifying the process will help anyone who wants to host and take advantage of the coming travel surge onboard quickly to get their first booking. In fact, for new listings that were activated and booked in Q1 2021, 50 percent received a reservation request within four days of activation.

Customer Service

We are also improving our community support by doubling the number of support agents this summer and expanding our support coverage from 11 to 42 languages. A completely redesigned Help Center will be easier to navigate by offering more personalized support to Hosts and guests.

Of the 100+ upgrades being showcased today, other highlights include:

Guests

  • Faster checkout process – We’ve reduced the number of steps for new guests to confirm their first reservation.
  • Arrival guide – Easy access to all the helpful information a guest needs (directions, door codes, Wifi and message the Host option) before check-in.
  • Updated reviews – Guests now have a fuller spectrum, from critiques to compliments, to rate their stay.
  • Clearer Cancellations – Refreshed cancellation policies increase clarity for both guests and Hosts.

Hosts

  • All-new Today tab – A new centralized home base to make it easier for Hosts to manage bookings and daily tasks. Here they will see new booking requests, upcoming reservations, and details of current guests, and quick links to the most used Host tools.
  • A new welcome to hosting page – A redesigned hub for new Hosts with helpful articles and testimonials, as well as an improved tool to estimate potential earnings from hosting based on nightly rates and occupancy in their immediate area.
  • Inbox improvements – Messages now load up to 10 times faster. New features include Personalized Quick Replies, which let Hosts reply with one tap to guests’ often-asked questions, and Scheduled Messages, which send automated reminders, like checkout instructions.
  • Dedicated Superhost support – A dedicated support team for Superhosts and Host Community Leaders giving our most experienced Hosts priority access to our most experienced support agents.

The Blurring of Traveling and Living

Many of these upgrades were inspired by a comprehensive analysis of Airbnb booking data and consumer research, which reveals the extent to which the pandemic has fundamentally changed travel. With 4 million Hosts across more than 220 countries and regions and more than 900 million guest arrivals, Airbnb is in a unique position to see how travel is changing. Our analysis reveals three key trends:

  1. Due to remote work trends, people are less tethered and more flexible on when they can travel. Since the start of this year, we have seen more than 200 million date-flexible searches, 100 million of which used our new Flexible Dates tool.
  2. Travel is being distributed to a much wider range of destinations. In the 12 months ending April 30, 2021, we had bookings in 94,000 cities.
  3. People are staying longer on trips. The share of stays 28 days or longer on Airbnb has increased from 14% of nights booked in 2019 to 24% in Q1 2021. In New York City, 62% of our summer 2021 nights are now for long-term stays.

The Airbnb Report on Travel & Living can be downloaded here.

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home and has since grown to 4 million Hosts who have welcomed more than 900 million guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. Every day, Hosts offer one-of-a-kind stays and unique experiences that make it possible for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way.

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May 25, 2021
By Corey Noles

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