Airbnb announced this week the launch of several improvements to the service. This decision was made following a consultation which received around 3,300 responses in May 2023. The main suggestions at the time included, among others, a reduction in cleaning fees, improvement of search filters, offer verification and the introduction of customer loyalty programs. Four months later, the 2008 Silicon Valley-based digital platform specializing in accommodation, revealed the steps taken to implement some of these proposals, here they are.
First of all, the app has overhauled its search engine and filters and now uses deeper artificial intelligence. The aim of this measure is to adapt to user preferences. This tool allows customers to view other available locations nearby. Search filters now include pet-friendly rooms and accommodations with king-size beds.
But the new features come at a difficult time for Airbnb, marked by restrictions in the main cities where the company operates as well as warnings of an impending housing crash. This is a global wave of municipal regulations that some analysts see it as the beginning of the end of Airbnb’s real estate boom.
Restrictions in the United States…
On September 5, New York City adopted a new rule prohibiting the rental of apartments for less than 30 days. As a result, a common maneuver like renting an apartment to save costs or renting a family apartment with kitchen and bedrooms near museums for short-term stays is no longer possible. See our article from 08/25:
This trend toward imposing restrictions is also evident in other “blue cities” in the United States. In California, for example, San Francisco has implemented a 90-day rental limit and a strict code of compliance with platform standards. In Chicago, overnight rentals were banned to prevent parties from taking place at properties.
…and in Europe
Similar restrictions have also been introduced in Europe. In Berlin, rooms can currently only be rented for a maximum of 90 days per year; in Portugal, licenses for this type of rental have been abolished; in Barcelona, a room cannot be rented for less than 30 days, among other restrictions in force on the Old Continent.
What should change…
It was announced that Airbnb would be making customer service improvements starting in November, with the aim that when customers call, specialist agents will be assigned to resolve issues quickly. “We receive a lot of feedback that Airbnb is no longer as affordable as it used to be“said Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, in a recent interview about one of the most criticized aspects of Airbnb in the survey.
Chesky therefore announced the introduction of a new verification system in the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and In France. The strategy will come into effect from February 2024 in the form of “verified” symbols. In the coming months, Airbnb plans to roll out this measure in 30 additional countries to exceed its goal of 157,000 fake listings blocked in 2023. The company hopes to make improvements in other areas as well.
To change this, the platform introduced “dynamic seasonal pricing”, a tool to compare hotel prices with similar offers: to date, nearly 680,000 guests have taken it into account. In contrast, more than 260,000 listings on the platform have removed their cleaning fees, in addition to the nearly 3 million listings that currently charge no fees.
Cleaning costs not very clean…
This trend is due to Airbnb’s decision to allow consumers to sort their listings based on overall price. But it is also a response to a controversy which erupted in September 2022 with the publication of an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting that Airbnb customers in the United States were filing similar complaints on Twitter and TikTok. The reason? The platform forced hosts to pay cleaning fees of up to US$143 on the grounds that they had to pay their cleaners appropriately. As a result, some respondents refused to reduce the fees, while others withdrew them immediately.
Unsurprisingly, Airbnb’s competitors took advantage of the discontent: the Hilton hotel chain launched a campaign reminding its customers that hotels do not require such payments. See also our article:
Result of the hotel versus seasonal rental match…
However, a year later, Airbnb’s reputation appeared to remain intact, according to a survey by Morning Consult (https://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-brand-morning-consult-market-research-cleaning-fees-chore-lists-2023-2). As of February 2023, 42% of 5,000 people surveyed in the United States said they had a positive opinion of Airbnb. This is 4% more than during the last survey in January 2022. The rest of the match in the months to come…