Travel revolution sees Airbnb make 'big changes'

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To address the cultural shift in how people live, work and travel, Airbnb has added new features to the hospitality booking app and website.

According to the digital home rental business, the new features mark the biggest change to the Airbnb service in a decade.

In a statement, Airbnb says its redesigned app and site will now feature Airbnb Categories, Split Stays and AirCover for guests, indicating these will be available worldwide this week, with rollout starting in the US.

In addition, Airbnb notes the updates were inspired in part by booking trends seen on its platform – most significantly, long-term stays (of +28 days) continue to trend upwards.

“The way people travel has changed forever. That’s why we’re introducing the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade,” says Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb.

“First, people are more flexible about where they live and work, so we’ve designed a new way to search with Airbnb Categories. Second, people are taking longer trips, so we created Split Stays to give you more options by splitting your trip between two homes. And third, we’re introducing AirCover for guests, giving you the confidence to book knowing that Airbnb’s got your back.”

With over 50 categories of homes, Airbnb Categories is a new way for users to search for homes they never knew existed.

The new search feature presents users with 56 categories that organise homes based on their style, location, or proximity to a travel activity.

In addition, when searching for a destination, the user’s search results are organised by categories that are relevant to that destination. As the user views different categories, the map zooms to show where the homes are located.

Says Airbnb: “To create Airbnb Categories, we evaluate millions of homes using machine learning to analyse titles, written descriptions, photo captions, structured data from hosts, and reviews from guests.

“Members of Airbnb's curation team review listings and hand-pick featured photos – so if a listing is in the Amazing Pools Category, the first photo shows a pool. Then, each category goes through a final check to help ensure consistency and photo quality.”

The 56 Airbnb Categories include more than four million homes, according to the company.

Split Stays allows users to split their trip between two homes. “With Split Stays, you will typically see around 40% more listings when searching for longer stays.

“When viewing Split Stays on a map, an animated line visually connects the two homes to show you the distance between them and the sequence of the stays. Once you select a Split Stay, you’re guided through an easy-to-use interface to book each stay, one home at a time.”

In terms of AirCover for guests, Airbnb notes the protection in travel feature is included free of charge with every stay.

AirCover covers a booking protection guarantee, check-in guarantee, get what you booked guarantee and a 24-hour safety line.

“AirCover has been designed directly into the Airbnb app and website, making it easy for you to contact an agent and resolve issues quickly. We created a team of specially trained agents for last-minute rebooking assistance. We also significantly expanded our 24-hour safety line to cover 16 languages.”

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