Airbnb wants to take tourists to places they never knew existed

By TIN Media | Hospitality Published 1 month ago on 16 May 2022
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Airbnb is overhauling its website to entice tourists to destinations where it has more places to stay, to ensure that pent-up demand during this year's peak season is not stifled by supply constraints.
Whereas previously, Airbnb searches were mostly filtered by location and subsequently by date, the makeover revealed on Wednesday will add 56 new categories. Tabs will sort the nearly 4 million listings by functions like "surfing," "skiing," and "camping," as well as features like "houseboats," "farms," and "castles."

Computer vision technology is utilized to auto-populate listings with particular items that are obvious in photographs, such as "grand piano," in addition to hosts providing information.

The upgrade was described as the "largest overhaul to Airbnb in a decade" by the firm.

"The way you look for travel online has been the same for 25 years," CEO Brian Chesky told reporters this week in New York. "There's a large search box with a question: 'where are you going?'"

"We could take you to areas you wouldn't have thought to look for."

Since going public in December 2020, the main possible hurdle to Airbnb's prospects of a massive boom in tourism because of pent-up demand as the coronavirus pandemic recedes has been a supply of suitable and desirable places.

Active listings on the platform have climbed by roughly 7% since the business's S-1 filing ahead of the IPO, according to company records. According to independent rental data researcher AirDNA, only nine of Europe's top 20 cities have more open listings now than in 2019.

Non-urban supply has been stronger, owing to a need for social distance at first, and then to changing attitudes on distant labor. Listings in non-urban areas climbed 15% year over year internationally in the first quarter of this year, and 21% in North America.

According to Chesky, the new features would also direct users to lesser-known places: "We're in 10,000 cities, and most people can't think of that many cities."

"And I believe there are several causes for this concentration of travel. I believe it's because people watch Emily in Paris on Netflix... everyone goes to Paris, and most people can't recognize small French places."

The makeover, according to Chesky, will build on the "I'm flexible" feature, which was introduced in May 2021 and allows consumers to view a greater choice of possibilities if they have no set dates in mind. According to Airbnb, the tool has been used to do over 2 billion searches.

The upgrade will provide location customization, such as the ability to declare a desire to stay in a US national park without naming which one. It's also promoting its services in unexpected regions like the Arctic Circle, where it lists 6,500 locations.

People looking to arrange longer stays to work remotely accounted for a large portion of the company's revenue rise during the pandemic. Long-term stays of 28 days or more accounted for 21% of all gross Airbnb reservations in the first quarter, up from 13% in the same period the previous year. The makeover includes more alternatives, such as "Split Stay," where Airbnb's algorithm suggests two locations that could be booked together if no single host can accommodate a stay for the entire duration.

"When you're staying for more than a week, this doubles the number of search options," Chesky explained.

Since the beginning of the year, Airbnb's stock has dropped 33% amid a broader sell-off in IT firms. However, the business recently informed investors that it was on track to have a record peak season, with 30% more nights booked for this summer compared to the same period last year.

It predicted that revenues would climb by more than 50% year over year in the current quarter, notwithstanding continued low bookings in the Asia Pacific.


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