AirBnB is taking a page out of the HotelTonight handbook today, opening their network of apartment rentals to the last-minute market. But unlike every other booking tool for spontaneous travelers, this one’s not focused on markdowns. Says an AirBnB spokesperson, the new feature responds to a “lifestyle shift” among travelers, who are more willing than ever to plan getaways on the fly. But it’s also thanks to an increasing number of AirBnB listings featuring “instant booking,” a one-click checkout system that requires no back-and-forth messaging between the traveler and host (the company says they’re up to 90,000 such listings, from just 30,000 last year).
For AirBnB, the shift has nothing to do with inventory management or competitive pricing—hosts have always been able to adjust their rates as they choose—but everything to do with mobile consumers. As such, you’ll only be prompted to look for last minute bookings when you access AirBnB on your iPhone or Android device. And for now, the feature will be limited to the San Francisco and LA markets (mobile users in those cities will also receive simple suggestions of where they might go for a quick weekend jaunt, marking the company’s first foray into “travel inspiration”). Not on the west coast? Look for AirBnB’s last minute bookings coast-to-coast in the months ahead.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.