New Airbnb feature aims to ‘redistribute’ tourists from oversold places

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New York (AFP) – Seeking to combat “overtourism” in popular destinations, Airbnb on Wednesday unveiled a new feature that encourages users to search by travel category, not just destination.

The goal is to “redistribute” users away from places crowded with travelers, such as Venice, Paris or the largest US cities, Airbnb executives said.

Under the new Airbnb program, consumers can choose from 56 categories such as “beach”, “countryside”, “iconic cities” or “design”, the latter featuring homes featured in architecture magazines. Some four million properties are tagged, with more categories to be added over time.

The redesign is an alternative to the search box long used by Airbnb and other online travel sites where users enter a destination and travel dates.

Airbnb users will still be able to search conventionally, but the category option offers an alternative to direct demand away from oversold places, chief executive Brian Chesky said.

“We felt like everyone was going to the same places. They were just typing in Los Vegas and Orlando and Miami and Rome and Los Angeles and New York,” Chesky said during a briefing unveiling the changes.

“We’re trying to spread everyone out to as many places and dates as possible,” said Chesky, who called the plan “good for Airbnb” but added that it would “also alleviate some of the problem of the over-tourism”. .”

Users can go to the categories tab at the top of their screen, choose dates, and then browse pages of options at different prices in different cities or countries.

While developing the new feature, Airbnb urged some owners to update their photos so that the property profile page for “amazing pools” had a pool and “ski” properties were displayed with snow, Chesky said.

“Overtourism isn’t too many people in the world traveling…it’s too many people going to the same places at the same time,” said Chesky, who also highlighted the features of Airbnb for those who have flexible deadlines away from the most requested times.

Responding to a trend of longer stays, Airbnb is tweaking the system to do “split stays” where users can book two successive trips at once.

Another change is giving users three days to rebook or get a refund if a property doesn’t match what was promised; under the current system, users only have 24 hours to complain.

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