As part of efforts to bring renewed vigor to its business following the pandemic that so badly affected its operations, Airbnb on Wednesday introduced 50 new features for the accommodation platform, as well as a new service called Rooms that it describes as “an all-new take on the original Airbnb.”
In a nutshell, Rooms is a more affordable option that makes it easy to find accommodation in other people’s homes, which is pretty much how Airbnb started out. The new Rooms category features more than 1 million listings and includes redesigned filters to help you find what you need more quickly.
For greater transparency on who you’ll be staying with, every Rooms listing includes a so-called “Host Passport” that enables guests to learn more about the homeowner before they book their stay.
In a post on its website, Airbnb points out how staying in a private room in someone’s home is an excellent way to meet someone new and experience the city like a local, and also a great way to connect again following several years of relative isolation during the pandemic. It’s easier on the wallet than renting an entire property, too, as according to the company, more than 80% of its private rooms cost less than $100 per night, with an average rate of $67 per night.
“With Airbnb Rooms, we’re getting back to the idea that started it all — back to our founding ethos of sharing,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO. “Airbnb Rooms are often more affordable than hotels, and they’re the most authentic way to experience a city. This is the soul of Airbnb.”
The new Rooms offering may be seen by some as an attempt by Airbnb to take some of the heat out of the debate over the extent to which the platform has led to rent hikes and housing shortages in popular cities, caused in part by renters buying up entire properties to put on Airbnb. Rooms also enables Airbnb to compete more effectively with services like Homestay, which only offers rooms inside a host’s home rather than a standalone property.
With Airbnb expecting a surge in bookings this summer following a quiet couple of years, the company has also added a bunch of new features after conducting a full review of guest procedures, from signing up to checking out.
The new features include improved maps, a dedicated 24/7 support team for priority access when you’re on a trip (with a goal of answering 90% of calls in English within two minutes), and a pay-over-time tool in partnership with Klarna, which lets guests in the U.S. and Canada apply to pay for stays in four interest-free installments over six weeks.
Airbnb Rooms and the new features and upgrades will start rolling out this week, the company said.
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