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3 major ways Airbnb is improving the user experience for guests and hosts

May 25, 2021
6 min read
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Most everyone is familiar with the short-term vacation rental giant Airbnb and some (like me) may even incorporate booking Airbnb listings when planning trips. With Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, declaring that we're entering "the biggest travel rebound in a century," Airbnb is undergoing a major upgrade to its platform — including 100+ new product features — which are aimed to both meet the needs of an unprecedented travel rebound and support a major shift in how people are traveling.

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With a new browsing and booking experience for guests and an array of new features to help onboard new Airbnb hosts seamlessly, we take a look at the most compelling updates coming to the Airbnb platform.

Flexibility is key

(Screenshot by Airbnb)

Prior to the pandemic, the thought of virtual sessions replacing in-person schooling or swapping Zoom calls for office meetings would have been a rare bird. But flexibility has been the name of the game since last year and has become vital to travel’s health and growth. For those fortunate enough to be able to work remotely, spending a few days, weeks or even months working away from home has become a viable lifestyle.

With flexibility at the forefront of travelers' minds, Airbnb refreshed a new, improved browsing and booking experience that introduces three ways to search on Airbnb: Flexible Dates, Flexible Matching and Flexible Destinations. These search methods are paired with useful filter options.

Flexible dates

Having flexible dates for your next trip makes it easy to find the best places to stay. For example, if you wanted to stay at the most wish-listed, magical treehouse in the U.S., rather than searching with fixed dates, you can search for a weekend getaway or weeklong stay and the platform will populate the next availability for this coveted treehouse.

Flexible matching

The site offers a wider selection of listing results when you search for a place to stay by displaying homes just outside of your search filter parameters. For example, if you're looking for a home to rent in Orlando with a pool for 10 people and set a max price of $200 per night, Airbnb will show options priced just above this. This way, you never miss out on a great stay that falls just outside what was specified in your search.

Flexible destinations

You're not sure where you want to go, but what you do know is that you need a vacation after being cooped up at home for so long. The Flexible Destinations feature 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 houseboats in the Keys to wagons, Airbnb has more than 170,000 one-of-a-kind properties to choose from.

More customization

Prospective guests now have new filter options that allow for more customization when searching for the right Airbnb. Users can search for homes near points of interest, such as national parks, or with very specific attributes, such as whether the property has a piano or an EV charger for an electric vehicle.

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Related: How to negotiate (and save) on your next Airbnb stay

Hosting made easier

(Screenshot by Airbnb)

Though it won't come as a shock to anyone who's been reading or watching the news lately, there's immense pent-up demand for travel as people yearn to get out of the house and connect after months of pandemic-caused isolation. With so much travel demand comes the need for more Airbnb hosts. Actually, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has declared the company is looking for a few million more hosts for the post-pandemic travel boom and that's why Airbnb is making it easier for people to offer up their home with a brand-new, simplified onboarding process.

Rather than a cumbersome process that prospective hosts had to undertake prior to the recently announced changes, now a host can create a listing on Airbnb in just 10 easy-to-navigate steps. Hosts will receive guidance on arranging photos based on their guest appeal, crafting the best title and description for their listing and auto-fill basic details of their home with publicly available real estate data, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Related: How to become an Airbnb Host

Improved service support for guests and hosts

(Screenshot by Airbnb)

If it hasn't happened to you, you likely know someone that has had some type of issue one way or another before, during or after an Airbnb stay. I've stayed at more than 100 individual Airbnb properties and can count on less than one hand the number of mishaps I've experienced. Still, Airbnb hears the complaints and has taken steps to improve the customer service quality for guests and hosts.

Guests will now notice a faster checkout process with fewer steps when making a reservation. Cancellation policies will also be clearer, so there's clarity between guests and hosts if a cancellation occurs. Guests will receive a new arrival guide, which provides information such as door codes, Wi-Fi instructions and directions to the property.

Airbnb hosts (and guests) will receive upgraded support with a new, redesigned help center to make it easier to obtain support from customer service. Hosts will also have a new, shiny centralized home base called theToday tab, which simplifies managing bookings and daily tasks. New booking requests, upcoming reservations and current guest details will be easily identifiable.

A neat additional feature for hosts is an improved technological tool to help estimate potential earnings from hosting based on nightly rates and occupancy in their immediate area. Along with the flexible search updates and simplifications to the hosting process, Airbnb is also making upgrades to its community support department, doubling the number of support agents available on the phone this summer and almost quadrupling language support coverage from 11 to 42 languages.

Related: Insider tips from Airbnb Superhosts on how to launch the perfect rental

Bottom line

Airbnb recently unveiled the company’s biggest ever platform upgrade, including more than 100 new product features and trends, to meet this pent-up travel demand and create improved experiences for millions of travelers and hosts around the globe. With more and more people looking to connect with family members and friends after a long period of isolation, these product updates by Airbnb arrived just in time for the looming surge of travel this summer.

Related: A guide to the best credit cards for Airbnb stays

Featured image by Eat, pray and love in this secluded villa located in Bali. (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.