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Airbnb just dropped its 'biggest change' in a decade

May 11, 2022
7 min read
boxy house with large windows
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You probably already know that there are thousands and thousands of incredible homes to rent on Airbnb, including out-of-this-world properties like castles, igloos and treehouses. The tricky part of Airbnb is finding them — and then it's even harder to narrow down dates you can actually stay there.

However, with Airbnb's summer 2022 release — "the biggest change to Airbnb in decades," according to Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky — finding a special place to stay is easier than ever. In fact, the update might just help you find a dream stay in a locale you've never even heard of.

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The summer update includes a handful of new features that not only group specific properties into category types (like castles, for example), but also allow users to find and book multiple places to stay over the course of a single trip, plus new protections to ensure a positive experience.

Last year, Airbnb launched 150 upgrades to the platform. Many upgrades were specifically designed to help people be more flexible when looking for a place to stay, like the "I'm (even more) Flexible" tool, which opened flexible booking options up to a 12-month window, a helpful tool for people who aren't sure when they want to go or who have the freedom to go whenever.

Now, as travel demand is skyrocketing and we're on the verge of a "sold-out summer" when everything is already sold out or so expensive it might as well be, flexibility is even more important. These new updates, detailed below, might just be the key to locking in an incredible vacation.

(Image courtesy of Airbnb)

Airbnb Categories

The first major change to Airbnb is the introduction of Airbnb Categories: "A new way to search that makes it easy to discover millions of homes you never knew existed."

With this feature, Airbnb drops the notion that you need to know exactly where you want to go and specific dates to travel. Instead, it lets the vast number of rentals on the platform guide you. Now, when you visit Airbnb on the app or on the website, homes are organized into 56 different categories across a spectrum of home types, locations and activities to explore.

These categories include home types like castles, A-frame homes, barns, windmills and even farms or containers. Want to book a house with a grand piano? That's a category. Looking for a culinary getaway with a chef's kitchen? That's a category, too. With the design category, you can search through homes featured in glossy magazines or designed by celebrated architects like Frank Lloyd Wright.

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If you're wanting a specific location type but aren't sure where to go, just toggle over to "beachfront" to see what's available near or far, maybe in a charming beach town you've never heard of. Other location categories include: "Arctic," for destinations like Norway, Finland and Iceland; riads in Morocco; ryokans in Japan; and more broad terms like "vineyards," "countryside" and "lakes." For fans of national parks, let that category guide you to a park you've never experienced.

Or, if you don't know where to go, but are looking for a certain activity – say golfing, skiing, surfing or camping – Airbnb now groups those together for inspiration.

With this feature, you can make a broad search across all available properties in that category or you can still set a specific destination and search for homes across different categories. For example, you can search castles across all of Europe or zoom in and find ones specifically in France.

To take it one step further, you can now search for castles in France for a one-week trip across entire months, like June and July for example, to see what's available to book without being locked into specific dates.

(Image courtesy of Airbnb)

Split Stays

With the new Split Stays feature, Airbnb will automatically show you booking options that split trips that are a week or longer into two different homes. This feature gives travelers the opportunity to potentially experience two different destinations or homes without piecing it together themselves, and the chance to see around 40% more listings, according to Airbnb.

Split Stays automatically show up grouped together with individual homes when searching for a specific destination. So if you're scrolling for a weeklong trip to France, you might see two similar homes in different destinations paired together as a booking option mixed in with the rest.

It also works across 14 different categories, including camping, national parks, skiing and surfing. If you're looking for a weeklong surf trip in California, you might be suggested two totally different coastal areas to split your vacation between.

Better yet, when looking at Split Stays on the map, an animated line appears to show you the distance between the two. If you decide they're right for you, a quick-and-easy interface helps you book both in a seamless process, one home at a time.

(Image courtesy of Airbnb)

AirCover for Guests

The last major change is the introduction of AirCover for Guests, a comprehensive travel protection program that will now be included free with every booking. "It represents the biggest upgrade to Airbnb customer service in a decade," the company said.

With AirCover, guests are protected in four different ways:

  • Booking Protection Guarantee: Airbnb will find a similar or better home if a Host has to cancel a booking within 30 days of check-in, or offer a refund.
  • Check-in Guarantee: Airbnb will find a similar or better home, or offer a refund, if you can't check in to your home and the Host cannot resolve the issue.
  • Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee: Guests now have 72 hours to report if something in the home isn't as advertised and Airbnb will find a similar or better home, or offer a refund. Examples from Airbnb include if a refrigerator stops working or if there are fewer bedrooms in the home than listed. Previously, Airbnb only offered guests 24 hours to report an issue.
  • 24-Hour Safety Line: Guests who feel unsafe in an Airbnb now have access to "specially-trained safety agents" all day and all night.

AirCover is built directly into the Airbnb app and website, with a team of agents available for last-minute rebooking assistance so if any issues arise you can quickly receive support.

Bottom line

Airbnb knows that the world continues to change, along with people's travel habits. The new category feature opens a world of possibility for travelers who aren't sure where they want to go — or have always wanted to stay somewhere extremely unique but couldn't put the pieces together on Airbnb. Split Stays is a great addition to that feature, giving travelers more options and the opportunity to see more of the world than just the place we thought we wanted to go. AirCover is a long-overdue update to help travelers feel more secure in their bookings, especially in this ever-changing world.

Whether you hate travel planning or you like it more than the actual trip itself, these updates will certainly give would-be travelers a lot more access to unique homes and destinations that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

Featured image by (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.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.