Airbnb's New Features Include Flexible Booking, Unique Stays, and Wi-Fi Perfect for WFH
Airbnb introduced a slate of new features this week ahead of the holiday season, including new styles of accommodations, flexible booking options, and provisions for a seamless WFH day.
The homeshare company introduced a host of new search categories, including ski-in/ski-out homes, off the grid, luxe homes, and offbeat homes like the chance to sleep in a spaceship or a giant Idaho potato.
The unique accommodations are searchable just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is seeing a bit of a boom this year. In fact, Airbnb told Travel + Leisure the company has seen over 40% more nights booked in the United States as of September for this year compared to Thanksgiving week in 2019.
To make it even easier to plan a trip, Airbnb is expanding the flexible search option it rolled out in May, allowing people to search for a home up to 12 months in advance, as opposed to the initial six.
"If you are flexible about where and when you travel… you can be inspired by the home as opposed to the location," Catherine Powell, Airbnb's global head of hosting, told T+L. "We've continued to be creative in the categories we've introduced."
That flexibility is turning into longer stays for the holidays, a trend that has continued for months. Globally, the company is seeing a 19% increase in nights booked for long-term stays for December, and is seeing a 68% increase in the U.S., compared to the same time in 2019.
That's part of the reason Airbnb has upgraded its WFH offerings, including the new verified Wi-Fi feature, which will test a host's internet speed and automatically publish it on the site.
"The Wi-Fi filter has been used 288 million times this year alone, the third most popular filter after pets and pools," Powell said.
But it's not just people working who are booking long-term stays: The option appears to be most popular with travelers from 60 years old to 90 years old.
Additionally, the company has created a system for hosts to verify accessibility features like step-free accommodations by submitting photos of their homes.
Ultimately, whether it's reconnecting with family or taking a big European vacation — the company has upgraded its translation engine to enable automatic translations of listings and reviews in more than 60 languages — Powell said Airbnb is "constantly, relentlessly innovating and ensuring we produce the right tools and the right services to meet these changing needs of both our hosts and our guests."
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.