It’s been an interesting few weeks for Airbnb.
After a year of underperformance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb is looking to regain a foothold in the short-term rental and tourism market by reinventing its platform in the coming months.
But the company has been bogged down with criticism for poor customer and host support, flawed app experiences, soaring prices, and a shaky backend system.
Airbnb shares have fallen over the past three months, from $ 212 per share in February to $ 134 per share in late May – lower than their initial opening price of $ 139 per share in December 2020 when they first went public.
In response, Airbnb has released official statements and a massive list of 103 new changes and additions to the platform over the course of 2021.
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It started with a Tweet
As all media firestorms begin in modern times, Airbnb’s public relations episode started with a tweet. A guest explained their costs for a recent stay:
According to the image, the guest was charged $ 114 for a cleaning fee. That’s more than the cost of a one night stay.
This sparked a wave of similar tweets noting that they were getting excessive prices for cleaning and other costs that seemed far too expensive compared to the price per night.
This led to Airbnb publishing a response about fees and how they are formulated. They defended the fees and indicated that they were clearly stated during the booking process so that guests know exactly what will be charged before ever clicking the “book” button.
The company also noted that they give their hosts the autonomy to determine their own cleaning costs, as all locations are different and require varying degrees of maintenance, such as hiring professional cleaning crews.
To conclude their argument, Airbnb stated that “among the active Airbnb listings worldwide, [45%] do not charge a cleaning fee. For ads that do charge a cleaning fee, the cost is on average less than 10 percent of the total reservation cost. “
However, Airbnb recognized the need to be more targeted with its price transparency and stated that they would review the issue in the coming months.
Airbnb’s new direction
Yes, there has been a pandemic, but as it subsides, Airbnb must restore what many believe will be a booming summer for tourism.
To build strength, the company announced 103 new additions and changes that will be coming to the platform in the coming months.
Chief among these are the improvements in customer support, especially for hosts, which has been remarkably poor. Even CEO Brian Chesky admitted during a presentation this week that the support “was not where it should be”.
To solve the support issues for Superhosts – Airbnb’s shining credential given to their most valued hosts – the platform will create a dedicated support team just for them.
Furthermore, the app is being upgraded with a more streamlined and flexible experience, allowing users to search based on new criteria and more defined filters. Airbnb’s goal is to provide guests with an in-app booking experience that leaves no destination behind.
This will inevitably help hosts as their visibility may increase when the updates are rolled out.
What does Airbnb mean for the short-term rental industry?
Airbnb was founded in 2008 as a disruptor to the deep-seated hotel and tourism industry, offering cheaper prices and a diverse collection of destinations. Airbnb was ready for success.
But despite its growth, in recent years the company has been criticized for rising prices and other issues, making hotels more attractive to some.
The company is an essential pillar of the short-term rental industry, as well as tourism. Countless real estate investors rely on Airbnb’s rental income and its powerful platform, which provides greater visibility – especially as these new changes occur – for listings that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, such as suburban and suburban properties.
“While these types of markets have traditionally been lucrative investment opportunities, many of them don’t have as much online visibility in terms of where the focal points are in relation to the properties,” said Avery Carl, a real estate investor and broker. with The Short Term Shop.
Carl also believes Airbnb’s impact on tourism in general is critical, and says these new changes should help guests get used to their destination better than before.
“Airbnb’s changes around highlighting properties near points of interest, showing local experiences and attractions on the property map, and making suggestions for activities will be beneficial to first-time visitors as well as for landlords who own properties in attractions in these areas. “
With the tourism industry recovering, Airbnb clearly wants to lead the way. It will be interesting to see how competitors such as Vrbo and hotels react.
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