Airbnb just launched a series of new features to help both travelers and Airbnb Hosts — the people who rent out their rooms, entire homes, castles, tree houses and nearly everything in between.
This new release is helping answer the question that many people have had when considering booking an Airbnb lately: Isn’t it just easier to get a hotel?
“[At] a hotel, you understand absolutely what it is that you’re going to get,” Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s global head of hosting, told TPG. “What is so amazing about Airbnb is how unique all our listings are, but that uniqueness makes it challenging to understand.” She noted that users can often wonder if the listing they booked was the right choice for them specifically.
The new features will help people better find and book the perfect Airbnb for their stay out of the whopping 7 million listings on the home-sharing platform. Features include a handy badge that will alert users that a listing has met a series of qualifications to make it a “Guest favorite,” an updated ratings and reviews experience, and new tools to help hosts make their listings as descriptive as possible.
For Powell, who recently listed her own Malibu guest house on Airbnb, these new features can better help hosts fully share what’s on offer (and what isn’t) at their listing; this will then help guests find exactly what’s right (and isn’t right) for their stays.
As for her own place, Powell is well aware of how much work, care and attention goes into creating an amazing experience — but it’s worth it. “Nothing beats actually being a host and the effort that goes into creating that great guest stay and wanting to meet guest expectations.”
Here are a few highlights from Airbnb’s new additions.
The new ‘Guest favorite’ badge AIRBNB
Now, while searching for listings on Airbnb, you might see a small badge displayed on search results that reads “Guest favorite.” That badge indicates that the listing is one of 2 million Airbnbs with sky-high ratings from past guests and near-zero cancellations or service incidents.
The badge, Powell explained, is dynamic and refreshes every day to account for the volume of new reviews that are continuously coming in. “Every minute, 100 five-star reviews are left on the platform,” she said.
She also noted that homes with a guest favorite badge have an average 4.9-star rating and can’t be considered for the badge until they’ve received five reviews.
“It’s an easy badge to see, so you will know this is something that guests love [or] most loved, so I’m gonna book that,” Powell said.
Improved guest ratings and reviews AIRBNB
One new feature TPG thinks travelers will love is the ability to more easily comb through reviews and understand past guests’ ratings. This will help you make sure the listing you’re considering meets all of your needs.
This update now allows users to sort through reviews to find ones that contain information you might be looking for. For example, you can now use a search box above the reviews to find reviews with certain keywords that might help answer questions about the listing or a previous guest’s experience to help better inform your decision-making process.
There are also more details included in reviews to help give information to would-be bookers, like how long that person stayed, the purpose of their trip and if they traveled with a family, with a pet or with a group.
“If you go and work remotely somewhere, and you’re going to spend three weeks and you see that a review was left by someone who spent two or three weeks in that home, you know that their needs are going to be the same as yours,” Powell explained. “And so it’s more relevant.”
Lastly, new charts will be visible in listings that show the distribution of reviews from one to five stars, making it easier to understand the actual number of positive and negative reviews a listing has received.
Hosts are empowered to give more details AIRBNB
Another way Airbnb is helping travelers find the right Airbnb for their trip is by helping hosts beef up their listings so guests quickly get as much information about the listing as possible.
“A lot of what this release is about is really helping guests find the right listing for them,” Powell said. That is made easier, she explained, by giving hosts smarter tools.
Those new features include the new “Listings” tab, a powerful set of tools to help hosts better share details about their listings by highlighting various amenities, room types and sleeping arrangements. It also is where a listing’s arrival guide lives, and it’s easier than ever to edit that.
One area that Airbnb realized needed work was with a listing’s photos. According to Powell, there are more than 175 million photos on the platform, and they understood that guests needed a better way to look at those photos to understand exactly what they were seeing.
To do that, Airbnb is implementing an AI-powered photo tour that will automatically recognize, categorize and label photos into various room types so that it’s easier to understand the layout of a home.
One last feature that will benefit hosts and guests is the ability to integrate certain smart locks directly into a listing, so a unique entry code is delivered right into the app before a guest’s arrival.
Most of these new features are already beginning to roll out worldwide. Some host-facing features, like smart lock integration, will come later this year in the U.S. and Canada and require enrolling in Airbnb Early Access.