Airbnb will make more pet-friendly listings in the latest updates
Chesky says the changes come amid the “travel revolution” ushered in by the pandemic.
“The key is this: travel has completely changed,” Chesky told The Washington Post. “And the reason travel has changed is because people have more flexibility.”
With more employers allowing staff to work remotely, even when offices reopen, “people can travel longer,” Chesky says. “We find that 20% of our business now consists of stays of a month or more.”
According to Airbnb, 45% of its bookings between July and September were for stays of at least one week, compared to 38% during the same period in 2019. In 2021, more than 100,000 people stayed permanently in an Airbnb listing for at least three months. For 2022 bookings, long stays are the fastest growing travel duration.
Chesky says one of the biggest results of the shift to longer stays is an increase in the number of guests wanting to travel with pets.
“The longer you travel, the longer you’ve lived somewhere, the more you want to bring the whole family – and usually your whole family includes your dogs or cats,” says Chesky, who recently became the owner of a 13-year-old golden week-old retriever named Sophie Supernova.
In 2019, the Top 3 amenities searched for on Airbnb were pools, WiFi, and kitchens. Searches in recent months reflect shifting traveler priorities, with “pets allowed” topping the list of most-searched amenities, followed by swimming pools and Wi-Fi.
Airbnb hopes AirCover will encourage more hosts to allow pets. In the past, hosts who were concerned about dealing with a messy or destructive pet included high cleaning fees in the listing price. Now, hosts will have the option to charge a pet fee to cover the cost of deep cleaning, and AirCover will pay for any damages.
Of course, pets aren’t the only guests who can damage Airbnb listings. After talking to thousands of hosts, AirCover was designed to meet host expectations. Chesky says that included details such as faster payouts for damage reimbursement.
In the latest round of platform changes, the company introduced features like “accessibility review” for travelers with disabilities to get more accurate listing ratings; a tool to check WiFi speeds; an extension of its “Ask a Superhost” feature; and a better “I am flexible” search function. For the latter, users can now set flexible date ranges up to 12 months in advance (it was previously six months) and apply them to four new categories of stay, including off-grid, ski-in, ski-out, luxury and unusual houses.
In “42% of searches on Airbnb, the guest either has a flexible date or a flexible destination, which means they are open-minded,” Chesky says. “It’s a complete paradigm shift.”
By the end of the year, Airbnb will also roll out a new translation engine, which will automatically translate listing descriptions and reviews. A “Smarter Tips” tab will also be available in 2021. The redesigned tips tab will bring together key stay details in one place, including check-in information and personalized Airbnb experience suggestions.
Chesky says guests and hosts can expect more feature releases next year. In the meantime, he plans to take a vacation in December or January to escape the cold.
“My criteria are to stay in [the West Coast] time zone, a warm place where I can bring my pet. Other than that, I just want to be somewhere really awesome,” Chesky says. “I think that’s how more and more people are thinking about traveling and living.”