Airbnb is going back to its roots – renewing its
focus on individual rooms within larger properties, a concept CEO Brian Chesky
calls “the soul of Airbnb.”
The introduction of “Airbnb Rooms” – with 1
million listings in the category - is part of the company’s Summer 2023 release,
which includes dozens of other updates for guests and hosts such as enhanced
displays of prices and checkout instructions.
Airbnb’s global head of operations, Tara Bunch,
said there are many reasons this is the “perfect time to reinvent the [rooms]
In 2022, the company said bookings of private
rooms on Airbnb increased 40% compared with 2021 when interest in whole homes was
still high due to concerns about private, more COVID-safe environments.
Further, Bunch said, the economic challenges
many consumers are facing such as inflation and job insecurity makes the
affordability of a private room even more attractive. According to Airbnb, more
than 80% of private rooms cost less than $100 per night with a global average
of $67 per night.
“It provides a very affordable way to travel, even
less expensive than hotels,” Bunch said.
And for hosts, she called the opportunity to put a
single room on Airbnb a “financial lifeline.”
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The company also expects the new Rooms
category to appeal to travelers who have felt isolated during the pandemic and
are looking for ways to “connect with people and have authentic experiences.”
said all of the updates announced today are based on feedback from guests and
hosts. In the case of Rooms, the company said guests have indicated a desire to
know more about who they are staying with, so the listings will now include a “host
clicking a small booklet icon on Rooms listings, consumers can learn not just
the host’s name and number of years hosting but also what Airbnb calls “fun
facts” hosts choose to share, such as where they went to school, where they
work, languages they speak and their interests and hobbies.
listings will include privacy details such as whether the bedroom door has a
lock, whether bathrooms are shared or private, whether there is access to
shared spaces such as a kitchen and whether people other than the host will be
in the home.
the company is confident it is uniquely positioned to capture interest from
travelers, primarily individuals and couples, who may be interested in this
type of listing.
asked who Airbnb defines as its competitors for this type of booking, Bunch
said, “If you look at a Vrbo they only do whole
homes. So I think other than Craigslist or something, we really are uniquely positioned
in this category and we are a trusted brand, unlike Craigslist. And I think we’ve
done rooms in a really amazing way in terms of really spelling out for a guest what
they can expect when they get there and what type of a setup they’re going to
But Phocuswright senior analyst Madeline List
said the new Airbnb Rooms offering will come up against headwinds of demand and
some of the “common trust pitfalls” faced in other parts of the sharing
“I think there are niches of bold and curious
travelers who the product can speak to, but I would expect many potential
guests to express concerns over security and even lack of privacy in a shared
accommodation,” List said.
“We see in Phocuswright's research that security is a
general concern for the short-term rental category even with full homes, given
that standards can vary so much from property to property and host to host.”
transparency for prices and checkout
response to concerns from guests about excessive checkout instructions and lack
of transparency in pricing, Airbnb is also changing the way both issues are
handled in its platform.
November the company announced it had begun advising hosts on which
checkout tasks are appropriate to request and also asked that those chores be
displayed before the booking is completed. Now all listings will show checkout
instructions pre-booking, based on a checklist that hosts have to complete. And
before leaving a property, the platform will send a reminder to guests about
the expected tasks.
If you are any company right now not thinking about and building it [generative AI] into your roadmap, it’s a little bit like missing internet.
Tara Bunch - Airbnb
are really working hard to make sure we guide hosts to ensure they are not
creating unnecessary checkout requirements on guests,” Bunch said. And guests
will have the opportunity to notify Airbnb in the review process if the
checkout requirements were different than what had been stated in the listing.
hope is to create some guardrails but also encouragement and, in some cases,
perhaps penalties if it goes off the rails.”
among the more than 50 updates launching today for guests and hosts, Airbnb has
enabled the option to view the total price of a stay, inclusive of all fees but
before taxes, for all listings on the platform. The “total price” toggle launched
as a trial in November, and Bunch said they have found that by putting this
control in the hands of customers it can spur hosts to be more fair in their
“In some cases we’ve heard that hosts were charging exorbitant
cleaning fees … and based on that feedback we feel like by presenting it upfront it will really motivate hosts to be competitive in their cleaning fee
pricing, because now it will be front and center and they’ll be compared to another
listing that may have a different cleaning fee,” she said.
“It’s going to drive some good competitive and
Airbnb’s future plans for generative AI
And while not part of this round of updates, Bunch
said Airbnb is actively developing solutions that use generative AI such as
“If you are any company right now not thinking
about and building it into your roadmap, it’s a little bit like missing internet," she said. "This
is going to be big over the next few years, and I think it’s going to be big
faster than we’ve seen probably any technology adoption curve in the history of
While Airbnb already uses AI and machine
learning for reservation screening and fraud detection, Bunch said generative
AI will open new opportunities for “interacting in search and interacting in
support and help in ways that are just completely unique and I think are going
to unlock unbelievable capabilities … and anyone who takes five years to get
there is going to be left in the dust.”
Additional Airbnb updates
Also among the updates announced today –
discounts for stays of longer than a month in the United States when paid with
a linked bank account, discounts for all stays over three months and installment
payments for guests in the U.S. and Canada through a partnership with Klarna.
Airbnb is also updating its support services
for guests just before, during and right after a stay. Bunch said the company
is confident 90% of these calls will now be answered in under two minutes, to
address the urgent issues that may arise while on a trip.
Phocuswright Europe 2023
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