Airbnb Reorganizes Its Search Around Curated Categories

Skift grip

Another interesting attempt by Airbnb to rethink the way people search and discover about its product and likely to finally spur some innovation in travel search and booking.

Rafat Ali

Airbnb is launching one of its biggest changes to the way people discover and search for homes on its platform, expanding its search categories from a limited number to 56 now and more to come later. It revamps its homepage and app search around what it calls Airbnb Categories.

Starting Wednesday in the United States and around the world later this week, potential customers will be able to search for everything from bed and breakfasts and cottages to camping, national parks and country estates, organized into these categories. Until now, property categories have mainly been divided into a limited number of generic categories, such as houses, apartments, bed and breakfasts, hotels, camping and glamping, farm stays and minimalist spaces, for example.

I will interview Catherine Powell, Global Head of Airbnb Welcome to our Future of Hosting Forum event starting today, and will dive deeper into this new launch and more, join us in New York last minute or online.

The company said the majority of its listings are now ranked by a mix of machine learning and human monitoring. Each of these lists is finally checked manually for the correct metadata on the categories.

Additionally, Airbnb has expanded its AirCover insurance for hosts to the guests in an opening to protect guests against instances where hosts cancel stays within 30 days of check-in, or the property does not turn out as advertised. Airbnb is giving guests three days to report such issues — up from the current 24 hours — and promising to find guests a similar or better property, or a refund.

Some hosts have criticized the longer complaint deadline, arguing that guests should know within the first 24 hours if a property is not actually as it is listed, and that three days paves the way for scammers looking free weekends, for example.

Airbnb has also rolled out a handy feature called Split stays which allows customers to see more potential properties than in searches so far, and to split their stays between two homes when searching for longer trips. For example, if someone is looking for a stay in one national park, Airbnb can direct the traveler to stays in two adjacent national parks. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, at a media event yesterday hinted at this new feature one of the indirect means by which it tries to solve the inventory problem in a destination: If places in a destination are booked for all dates a traveler wants, this new feature will suggest properties within driving/travel distance that are.

As is often the case with Airbnb’s PR machine, however, the ad tended to overdo it.

“Searching for travel has been the same for 25 years – you enter a location and dates into a search box,” the ad reads.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate and doesn’t even take into account the flexible search feature introduced by Airbnb in 2021. Kayak pioneered filters many years ago and today allows users to seek out everything from free breakfasts to all-inclusive properties, even if the quasi-layer of editorial curation that Airbnb launched today is lacking on a large scale.

Expedia also introduced a feature on mobile last week that highlights each property’s amenities, from housekeeping to gyms and parking, even before the property’s detailed description for comparison with other locations. .

Rival Vrbo, while offering many amenity filters, just like Airbnb, only allows you to search a limited number of property types, including house, apartment or condo, pool, pets allowed, the townhouse and the studio, for example.

Nonetheless, Airbnb’s increased number of property categories will improve the search experience for people looking for specific or interesting types of homes or apartments. Expect industry players to potentially discover more innovations in how to search and discover stays, and some of these will trickle down to hotel search products, learning from the first. pioneers in this field, such as Mr and Mrs Smith and Hotels Tablet.

Airbnb’s extensive property search categories will be an interesting experience to watch and see what the adoption is among Airbnb users.