People have said that Airbnb’s 2022 Summer Release is a big step forward in how vacationers look for places to stay. It shows important new trends in how people travel and plan their trips.
The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, called the changes that were announced on May 11 “the biggest change to the platform in a decade.” However, the update caused a stir in host forums, where some people complained about the new search function.
We look more closely at each new feature, what it means for you as a vacation rental host, and how you can use the changes to grow your business.
Airbnb Categories: a new way to look for something
This change gives travelers a whole new way to search, so they can look at unique or “dream” homes that may not have even occurred to them before.
The search option is based on 56 types of properties that can be narrowed down by location, type of home, and things to do.
The Design Category, which has some of the most beautiful properties on Airbnb, is now the default on the new Airbnb home page. The home page, also called the Airbnb Category-only landing page, looks like an online storefront and gives users a more personalized experience on the site.
What difference does this make?
Guests can let their imaginations run wild by looking through the Airbnb categories to get ideas for their perfect vacation. Airbnb sorts the places based on what makes them different.
One of the most talked-about new categories is the “OMG!” category, which shows off some of the site’s most unusual properties, like a yellow submarine in Australia or a secluded airship in Scotland with views of the highlands.
Guests who want to stay in a castle or a treehouse won’t have a hard time finding them. In the Design Category, a guest can look for a vacation home that has been featured in a design magazine.
The Location Category also has much broader terms like lakes, beaches, vineyards, and national parks, so guests can easily find properties near these kinds of places.
People who want active vacations can choose from things like surfing, camping, and golfing in the Activity Category.
What does this change to the Airbnb Categories mean for hosts?
From what people have said on Airbnb host forums, this seems to be the most controversial change for hosts. Each type of home goes through a process of being chosen. Machine learning is used to look at the titles, descriptions, photo captions, and guest reviews of millions of active Airbnb listings. So, it’s important to make sure that the information on your listing is correct and up to date.
Some hosts have said that their listing titles have been changed and that they no longer come up in the same searches. However, this change has helped vacation rentals that weren’t featured before come up in more searches.
Another worry for hosts is that the home page, which shows some of the most beautiful but also most expensive homes, might turn off people with smaller budgets. For example, one property on the home page, Joshua Tree, California, US, designed by Ken Kellogg and John Vugrin, is listed at 16,443 € per night in May.
How to make the most of the new search feature on Airbnb.
Change is scary, but growth can’t happen without it. With this new change, you can try to influence the category or categories in which your home will be shown by making sure you use the terms associated with that category, like “beach house,” in the title and description of your property listing, as well as in the amenities, activities, and images you upload.
Focus on what makes your property different or unique in your descriptions, as this is the most important thing, and change your listing to fit.
A property can be featured in more than one category, so figure out which ones you want it to be featured in and try to write your listing that way.
Also, keep in mind that guest reviews are taken into account when deciding whether or not to show your rental to potential guests. Try to highlight the features you want them to talk about in their reviews.
Split stays give your rental more chances to be seen
With Split Stays, you can book two different rentals for stays of 7 days or more. When a guest searches for a longer stay on Airbnb, the site will automatically find listings that fit their needs. The company said that split stays will automatically show up in search results for certain destinations and 14 categories, like national parks and skiing, to show users that they can stay in two places to make their trip longer.
What difference does this make?
People who want to stay longer, which is a growing travel trend in 2022, but can’t get the property they want for the whole time can now easily add another home in the same area to their booking. This is called a “split stay,” and it’s easy to do. This wasn’t possible on Airbnb before, but now it is. This also seems to make it possible to book multiple properties on the OTA in the future.
What difference does this make for hosts?
This change is a big plus for hosts because it makes it easier for people to find their rentals, even if they aren’t available for the whole time a guest wants to stay. Airbnb will now automatically pair your rental with another one to cover the whole stay.
Coverage for travelers
Airbnb announced a bunch of new free guest protections, but they didn’t offer a paid travel insurance product for guests in partnership with an existing insurance company, which was what most people in the industry were expecting.
AirCover is the new name for the four free safety measures that Airbnb gives to all of its guests. (Before, hosts could use AirCover to cover damage and liability.
AirCover for Guests has a Booking Protection Guarantee, a Check-in Guarantee, a Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee, and a 24-Hour Safety Line.
The Booking Protection Guarantee says that if a host cancels a guest’s booking less than 30 days before check-in, Airbnb will pay for the guest to stay in a similar or better home.
The Check-In Guarantee is used when a guest can’t check in and the host can’t solve the problem. Airbnb will find a similar or better place for the guest to stay for the same amount of time or give the guest their money back.
According to the Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee,
During a guest’s stay, if they find that your space isn’t as described—for example, if the fridge stops working and you can’t fix it easily or there are fewer bedrooms than you said—they have three days to let us know. We’ll find them a similar or better home at Airbnb’s expense, or we’ll give them a refund.
The 24 Hour Safety Line gives guests who feel unsafe in any situation a direct line to trained safety agents.
What difference does this make for hosts?
Some hosts are worried that some guests could take advantage of the Get-What-You-Booked-Guarantee I talked about above. Guests have three days to report a problem, which is too long. Hosts worry that guests may try to take advantage of this to get free weekend stays.
Hosts are also worried that the new guarantee could make guests more demanding, which could lead to more arguments. Some hosts worry that this will put the guests in a better position and give them less control over difficult guests. Read our last post to learn how to protect yourself from guests who cause trouble.
How can hosts make sure this change doesn’t cause trouble?
The best way to avoid arguments is to make sure your listings are always up to date and contain correct information. Also, choose pictures that show what the rental is like so that guests don’t come with false expectations.
Guest communication is another important part. Keep guests informed of any changes that might happen to their reservations, like if they need to wait longer to check-in. The best way to keep your guests from getting upset, which could lead to complaints or fights, is to talk to them in a friendly and honest way. Check out our post with email templates for better ways to communicate with guests.
Other changes to Airbnb that affect hosts of vacation rentals
Airbnb also recently said that the way it handles refunds for stays booked on or after April 29, 2022, will change. Under the new policy, Airbnb will be able to ask the host to pay back costs that Airbnb has incurred, such as when it helps a guest find or book comparable or better accommodations. This will be added to any amount you get back.
Airbnb also said it would end its cancellation policy from the coronavirus era, which lets travelers cancel a reservation for reasons related to the virus as “extenuating circumstances,” starting with reservations made after May 31. But the new cleaning rules that were put in place after the COVID-19 pandemic will stay in place.
The company also said it would take strict steps to stop parties on Memorial Day and July 4th to protect hosts from damage caused by partygoers.
Don’t be afraid! Your business is going to get bigger.
At first glance, you might be worried about how the Airbnb Summer Release 2022 will affect your vacation rental. However, if you update your listings to take advantage of the new features, the changes are likely to be good for your business in the long run. Your business will continue to grow with the help of a good property management system and channel manager, like the ones that Lodgable offers.