Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, told Travel + Leisure about a major change coming to the home-sharing platform.
Updated on September 21, 2023
Earlier this year, Airbnb shook things up by rolling out 53 new features based on user feedback, including fee transparency and lower fees for monthly stays. Now, some four months later, the home-sharing platform is back with additional updates — and even more overhauls in the pipeline.
A major change is Airbnb’s plan to verify listings. Airbnb shared with Travel + Leisure that a verified icon on a listing ensures the property exists, the address is accurate, and the host has access to it. “We just want to be a site where people trust the veracity of the information on our site,” Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder, told T+L.
To do this, the platform will ask hosts to upload photos, and then actually go to the property and use the Airbnb app to take real-time photos. Using GPS coordinates and live photos, the app will utilize artificial intelligence to come up with a “confidence score.”
“If the score is very high, then we’ll approve it; if the score is not high, we’ll decline it; and if we’re not sure, we’ll do a manual human review or ask for more photos,” Chesky said. (Airbnb intends to start verifying every listing in its top five markets — the U.S., Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and France — this year.)
Airbnb will also enhance its search functions. For example, if your search doesn’t pull a ton of results, the platform will offer suggestions at the bottom in a carousel to see a broadened geographic range. There are also two new search filters, thanks to consumer demand: you can search for stays with king-size beds and properties that allow pets. “We had 6 million guest arrivals in the last year where people brought pets,” Chesky said. “So, we felt that between the data on Airbnb, the responses, and the requests on social media, there was a preponderance of evidence that people wanted these.”
According to Airbnb, these updates — and the ones arriving later this year — are based on what users asked for. Chesky told T+L that after the May updates, he took to Twitter to hear what people wanted. The feedback, which he said was “really constructive and helpful,” helped prioritize changes — some of which the platform was already working on. “We’re always listening to feedback from the community,” said Chesky. “We’ll never stop improving the service. I’m really focused on just making our service so much better every year.”
One of the May updates was fee transparency through a “total price display” feature that gives you your cost including all the fees, instead of just the nightly rate. Airbnb shared with T+L that since its launch, more than 8 million guests have booked travel using this feature.
And, to tackle affordability, the platform also rolled out measures in May to encourage hosts to offer competitive pricing. “This is important because the stays at Airbnb are only as good as the host, and the hosts are only as good as our tools,” Chesky said. “And so, to make their service better, we need our hosts to be more successful, and they are as successful as the tools we build.”
Instead of telling hosts what to do, Chesky said the platform provided them with data to see the rates in their neighborhood and the metrics of other hosts who are and are not getting bookings. According to Airbnb, four in five hosts now use a pricing tool, two-thirds of hosts offer weekly or monthly discounts, and around 260,000 listings have decreased or removed cleaning fees.
As for what’s next, Chesky wants Airbnb users to want more from the platform. “Ultimately, I want people to love Airbnb so much that they want us to launch new things,” he said. “I don’t want Airbnb to only be a way that you book a home — I think Airbnb can be much more than that. But people aren’t going to ask for more of Airbnb if they don’t love the current thing. And that’s permission that you have to get from the customer.”