Airbnb’s Huge Summer Update Prepares for a New Era of Travel

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Airbnb last year CEO Brian Chesky said that the biggest challenge for the company was to think like a startup, despite Airbnb’s huge growth over the past decade. The pandemic, he said, has spurred the need to simplify and focus in order to survive. Since then, Airbnb has released hundreds of new features.

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That continues today with the latest Airbnb feature update. The biggest changes include a new category search, the ability to book two listings in the same thread for stays longer than a week, and AirCover for guests, which is essentially travel insurance provided by Airbnb.

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They work to achieve two big goals of the company.

First, inspire the world to return to travel. Chesky believes a new era of travel is about to begin, and Airbnb is betting on it. Hard. By reinventing search, automatically aggregating listings for long-term travel (which is becoming increasingly popular), and protecting users under AirCover, Airbnb opens the door for guests who want to return there safely.

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“We think people are ready to dream again,” Chesky said. “Many people have been isolated at home for two years. Many people do not undertake this great journey for the first time. And so we want us to want to encourage people to get out of the house and go out into this big world.”

The second goal is more related to the health of the business. Airbnb lives and dies thanks to its hosts. Small operations on one or more properties. Category searches and split stays give hosts from all corners of the platform better visibility, whether or not they match the user’s exact search specifications.

Airbnb Categories

Continuing in the same spirit of flexible search, Airbnb is today releasing a new way to search by category. In fact, the homepage now just fires a one-week search with flexible dates and shows a scrollbar at the top of the new Airbnb categories rather than an OG search bar that asks “Where are you going?”

The new search includes house type (e.g. A-frames, huts, castles and tiny houses) as well as house features (amazing pools, chef’s kitchens and creative spaces), location type (arctic, beach, farm). ) and even activities (surfing, golfing, skiing).

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Airbnb has been focusing on flexibility for guests. But the business benefits are clear. If users are looking for the same general travel destinations and have to search on some random hard dates, their inventory options will be severely limited.

Airbnb has hosts in hundreds of thousands of cities around the world, and flexible search allows you to find these places.

The company first experimented with flexible search back in February 2021, offering users the ability to search by length of stay (holiday vacation, weekly vacation, month-long vacation, etc.) without specifying specific dates.

In May of the same year, Airbnb announced that it will add flexible matching and flexible referrals. Flexible matching doesn’t tie users to every single search criteria they select, but shows Airbnbs that cover most of the criteria, while flexible referrals tag the source of today’s category listing, allowing users to search for beachfront properties or treehouses. .

It’s a build-up of flexible search crescendos in today’s release that puts categories front and center.

What’s more, Airbnb uses a combination of machine learning and manual validation to organize listings using structured data. For example, listings in the “Design” category show either the architect or the publication that listed the property as “title”. The listings in the Shared Home category show the hostname as the title, as this is probably the more important piece of information that the user will need depending on the category.

The same strategy is used for the featured image in the lists – for example, the first image you see after searching in a pool category is, of course, the pool.

This means that listing titles and descriptions have become much less meaningful, giving individual hosts a better chance of competing on their property rather than their marketing prowess.

Category Search also works in conjunction with Destination Search and varies by location. For example, if you search for places in France, categories like “Historic Houses” or “Vineyards” will appear.

Separate accommodation on Airbnb

Airbnb is also introducing split accommodation. Company research shows long-term stays are at an all-time high, more than doubling from two years earlier. To meet this demand, Airbnb allows users to book, say, a two-week trip and stay at two different listings in case neither listing is available for a full two weeks.

Separate stays are available in 14 new Airbnb categories, as well as for certain search terms. When selected, the UI shows the distance between the two lists and sets up a simple booking process for guests on both different lists without having to open a lot of tabs.

A split stay appears on all searches that are at least a week long.

Separate accommodation on Airbnb

Image credits: Airbnb

Right now, Chesky says, the split feature is controlled entirely by Airbnb, automatically merging two properties that match the user’s criteria. But it also sets the stage for what Airbnb might do with itineraries in the future.

It is currently difficult to book multiple Airbnbs for a long-term trip to different locations. Let’s say a user wanted to spend the summer traveling in Europe, or spend a couple of weeks traveling in the US. Airbnb does not have a set of features to help the user plan their stay for this trip.

With today’s release, Airbnb can easily build a split stay and offer itinerary creation and accommodation arrangements.

“The moment we can intelligently connect two houses, we can eventually connect three houses or two houses and an experience or a house and an experience plus something else,” Chesky said. “Then we can give the user control. You can then start integrating it with your wishlist in the future. It’s really starting to become a real itinerary app, which is something we’re not getting right now. But the technology exists.”

Airbnb AirCover for guests

Last year, Airbnb introduced its AirCover host insurance product. This was to inspire even more people to join the platform as hosts and list their assets, ensuring that any damages or issues are covered. For example, many Airbnb hosts were reluctant to allow pets to remain in their listings despite the huge increase in pet ownership since the pandemic. AirCover solved this problem.

Today, Airbnb is also announcing AirCover for guests. Guests will be protected from host cancellations, check-in issues, and access to a 24-hour security line. What’s more, Airbnb offers a “Get what you booked” guarantee. If the listing is not as advertised, Airbnb will refund guests or find accommodation of equal or better quality for their trip.

Again, this should give travelers the confidence to go back there and go on holiday. Chesky says it rivals the coverage offered by many hotel chains and certainly outperforms other booking sites like and VRBO.


All of these updates are designed to bring enterprise-grade infrastructure to the vast community of individual hosts. Categorized searches and stay separation increase visibility for hosts that are potentially off the beaten path or unable to provide accurate user search specifications.

The last time we talked to Chesky, he said that the focus of the company is on individuals. But a platform filled with people, from both the host and guest side, means a huge amount of variation from one search, one listing, and one booking to another.

The unique, one-of-a-kind nature of Airbnb travel is a huge part of its charm. There are no standard hotel rooms on the platform. But it also means that there is more variability, and variables can lead to problems. Airbnb listings are all over the world, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, from deserts to the Arctic. Literally. Without the processes and protocols of major hotels and chains, and without their service-related resources, the final guest experience can be very different.

AirCover for guests is designed to provide maximum protection for guests who may be spending a lot of money on their vacation, just like they get in a big hotel.

“We want to embrace our ‘one of a kind’ community,” Chesky said. The great thing about being one of a kind is that people are different, they are unique. The problem is that people are different and unique. The more unique it is, the greater the variability. And so we’ve been trying to think about how we can provide you with some protection, and we’re the only ones offering that. Is it as consistent as the Hilton? Probably no. But with these protections, you come pretty close to what a hotel can do, and you’re far beyond what, VRBO or Expedia can do. You are on your own when you book on these sites.”

Meanwhile, categorical search and split stays are ultimately about increasing visibility for all types of hosts, in all types of homes and places, to generate income and introduce guests (and their wallets) to their communities.

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