After announcing a number of changes to its platform in November 1’s earnings call, Airbnb announced its Winter Release on November 16 which promises to make it easier than ever to “Airbnb your home.”
Airbnb’s Summer Release earlier this year focused on a number of improvements targeted to improve guests’ experience (some of which led to frustrations for hosts), so this time the company turned its attention to hosting. With the introduction of Airbnb Setup, additions to AirCover, new payments features, control over Airbnb Categories, and more, the platform aims to remove any barriers for new hosts to get started and to improve the host experience overall. Combined with the pricing and algorithm updates outlined in their earnings call, hosts now have more tools to stay competitive as supply increases.
Here is what potential and existing Airbnb hosts should know about the Winter Release.
Economics and Host Complaints Influence Airbnb’s Winter Release
“The current economic situation is no doubt influencing Airbnb’s focus on improving the host experience. With a recession expected this year, Airbnb is looking to position the company as a unique way for people to make extra cash during tough times. New hosts with new listings will also support Airbnb’s goal of increasing their supply to meet an expected rise in demand,” said Ryan Saylor, Head of North American Partnerships at Beyond
“Airbnb has seemingly heard the complaints and criticism from hosts around a number of well-deserved gripes about automatically assigned Categories, lack of control over negative guest reviews, and more. Coupled with viral social media topics where hosts highlight extremely low or nonexistent occupancy levels, Airbnb is giving more control and options for hosts to meet guests' needs and stay competitive. To up their occupancy levels and win against increasing competition, hosts should carefully consider these updates, and update their strategies accordingly,” said Tay McManus, Director of Customer Experience at Beyond.
Airbnb Setup: Easier Than Ever to Airbnb Your Home
Airbnb Setup is the company’s answer to people who are interested in becoming hosts, but are struggling to get started. Planning to utilize its base of thousands of Super Hosts, Airbnb promises new hosts an experienced host to mentor and teach them one-one how to set up their listings, ready their homes for guests, and more. This new program will be launched in 80 countries worldwide with 1,500 Superhosts.
Airbnb also promises new hosts an experienced guest with a good track record for their first booking and specialized support from Airbnb from a specially-trained team of Community Support agents.
According to Airbnb, new homes on Airbnb are getting booked almost immediately. Half of the listings that were activated and booked in Q3 2022 received their first reservation within three days. They’ve also seen strong growth rates of new hosts, especially in certain countries with high inflation rates. Airbnb Setup should help these new hosts become even more successful.
Increased Protections for Hosts with AirCover Improvements
Airbnb introduced AirCover last year in November, aiming to provide hosts with unmatched, top-to-bottom protection. In their 2022 Winter Release, they made upgrades to AirCover for hosts, including:
- Guest identity verification
- Reservation screening technology
- $3M damage protection
- Auto & boat protection
- Art & valuables protection
- Easier to file a claim
New Airbnb Categories
Airbnb introduced Categories in May of this year as a new way for guests to search and find stays. Now, they added six new categories:
- New – Homes added to Airbnb within the past 10 weeks.
- Top of the world – Homes around 10,000 feet above sea level, often with stunning views.
- Trending – Highly-rated homes that received more listing views compared to the previous week.
- Adapted – Homes adapted for wheelchair access, with verified step-free paths into the home, bedroom, and bathroom.
- Play – Homes with basketball courts, game rooms, miniature golf, water slides, and more.
- Hanoks – Traditional Korean homes constructed of natural materials.
Since the release of Categories in May of this year, this feature has not been popular with hosts. The categories are automatically assigned to listings, with no direct control given to hosts. Responding to that criticism, hosts will soon have some control over the automatically assigned categories: Starting in 2023, hosts can view which category their home is in and add category-specific details to their listing.
Upgrades for Hosts = More Control Over Their Listings
Airbnb highlighted a few other updates for hosts that provide more control and aim to make hosting easier:
- Easier AirCover for Hosts claims process: Hosts can now file a reimbursement request in just a few easy steps and track its status on the Today Tab.
- Fast Pay: Hosts can now choose to receive payouts to their debit card in 30 minutes or less (available in the U.S. only).
- More detailed reviews: Guests and hosts can now add tags to their reviews to provide more specific details about a stay.
- Retaliatory review protections: They've expanded the reasons a review can be disputed and are allowing hosts to request removal of any retaliatory reviews in their history.
- Ground rules for guests: Simpler ground rules, supported by stronger accountability policies, help ensure guests treat every home with care and respect.
Were you surprised by any of this information? Let us know, we’d love to chat!