Airbnb Announces a Big New Update Focused on Flexibility — Here's What's New

Charles Platiau | Reuters
  • Airbnb announced several changes to its platform Monday with a focus on flexibility, ahead of a widely anticipated return to travel following the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • "We are seeing three fundamental shifts in travel as people become less tethered and more flexible," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement.
  • Among the changes, the company is rolling out flexible matching and destinations. It is keeping its flexible dates option, which was announced in February.

Airbnb announced more than 100 new changes and updates to its platform Monday with a focus on flexibility, ahead of a widely anticipated boost in travel as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to subside in some parts of the world.

Shares of Airbnb closed up .89% on Monday.

The changes come on the tail of Airbnb's first-quarter earnings. While its net loss tripled due to debt repayments and restructuring costs, it reported 64.4 million nights and experiences booked, up 39% from the prior quarter and up 13% year over year, showing the company was rebounding from the impact of the pandemic. During Airbnb's earnings call earlier in May, CEO Brian Chesky said the company was going to work to point demand from customers to where it knows it has the supply from hosts. The changes may help it do that.

Chesky said Monday that Airbnb is also making the updates because people are less tethered to home and work, are traveling more frequently and are staying at their travel destinations longer.


Changes for Airbnb guests

Airbnb is adding three new search options, including flexible dates, destinations and listings.

The flexible matching feature will show options that fall just outside a user's search parameters. For example, a listing will still appear in search even if it's slightly more expensive or a few miles outside the original range.

With flexible destinations, Airbnb's app or website might recommend certain unique types of homes, such as castles or adobe houses, in search.

The flexible dates feature began to roll out in February and lets users search for a destination without a specific time constraint. That means it's easier to search if you just want to travel and are open on the week or month of availability.

Airbnb said it's also launching a faster checkout process, updated review systems and clearer cancellation policies. Guests will receive a new arrival guide, which provides information such as door codes, Wi-Fi instructions and directions to the property.


Changes for Airbnb hosts

Additionally, Airbnb is making changes for hosts that may help attract more people to list their homes.

People who want to create a listing, for example, now have to follow just 10 steps instead of dozens to get started.

A new Today tab lets hosts manage bookings, requests and current guests and will provide quick access to the most popular Host tools, Airbnb said. Messages received by hosts will load faster and will include support for Quick Replies, which lets hosts send an answer to a frequently asked question.

Airbnb said it's doubling the number of customer support representatives this summer and that Superhosts will have a dedicated support team. Experienced hosts will get priority access to the "most experienced" help agents.

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