Wanderlust or bust? What is the New Airbnb?

Airbnb, a travel company now in its 2nd decade of operation, revolutionized the way we stay once already. For some companies, once is enough. But for Airbnb, the question is now, have they just done it again?

To say the world has changed as a result of Covid-19 is an understatement. Fortunately, along with change comes opportunity to reprioritize our lives and for businesses, an opportunity to meet the new needs of customers.

So after several years of restricted travel, Summer is just around the corner and many people are itching for that dream vacation they put on hold. Or maybe any vacation for that matter. AirBnb believes that the way travel have changed, and they have just the new feature offerings to make your next vacation the best one yet.

The Background Story

There is a lot of buzz going around right now about Airbnb. If you have ever signed up to AirBnb, you may have woken up recently with an eye-catching email from them. The subject line?

“The biggest change to Airbnb in a decade.”

That is a pretty bold statement. In it, they announce several new features, i.e. a new Airbnb for a new way of travel.

Of course, as the company that owns it, of course they think it is incredible. Some people it seems, did not think the announcement was that grand and they took to social media to criticize or mock the company’s big announcement.

So which is it? A revolutionary new way to book travel accommodation or just a great bit of marketing? Let’s review what’s new so you can judge for yourself!

What is the “New Airbnb”?

The new Airbnb is like the old Airbnb but with some new features that it believes customers will love.

Airbnb New Feature #1: Categories

According to Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky: “Categories are collections of homes organized by what makes them unique.”

How It Works

Global Categories

You can find the categories in a row along the top of the page. The row can be scrolled to the right to unveil additional categories. According to my count upon opening the Airbnb app, there are 56 categories that can be access by scrolling along the top of the homepage.

Each category has a cute little illustration to demonstrate the types of properties that can be found in each category along with a category. I was today years old when I learned what a Trulli was…thanks Airbnb!

Once you find a category that interests you such as “towers”, “off-the-grid”, or “amazing views”, simply click it and be wowed at the properties available to you.

As a product manager by profession, I have a lot of respect and admiration for Airbnb to put this feature together! Think about it – in order for you as an end customer to see 56 relatable, interesting and desirable accommodation categories, Airbnb created a machine learning algorithm to classify 6 MILLION active listings across 220 countries and regions using titles, written descriptions, guest reviews, photos and more. Honestly, it’s a pretty awesome and massive initiative.

Location Specific Categories

Provided that you know where you want to go and aren’t just surfing Airbnb for inspiration, you will see more targeted categories based on your desired destination.

Let’s take an example –

I want to visit Chile. In Chile, maybe there aren’t houses in EVERY single category. Instead, it would reduce to show me just the categories of homes available in Chile.

Unlike on the homepage, when you are looking at a specific location you will see all homes as the primary category but you will still be able to scroll to see the others.

The great thing about this is that you can learn more about what each of the country has to offer. Just by seeing the accommodation categories available, you get a little glimpse into life in that country. In Chile I see treehouses, vineyards, ski-in/out, earth homes, and so much more.

Airbnb New Feature #2: Split Stays

Due to remote work, people are now spending a longer time in their travel destinations. That’s right, people will be taking that next conference call from the Alps or the Greek Islands. Sometimes, it is difficult to find long term availability in a single accommodation in Airbnb and other times, you want to move around a region while you’re traveling.

Airbnb’s new feature for split stays is made for these travellers.

How It Works

This feature only shows up when you’re looking for stays longer than a week. It also only shows when Airbnb wants it to…i.e. you can’t specifically look for split stays.

There are 2 types of split stay suggestions that Airbnb might make. One type is based on location and one type is based on destination.

How can you see them?

List View

Simply input your search criteria and look through the results. Split stays will appear in your list of results and will look like this:

If you are interested in the split stay, you can click the box and see the proposed details. It will show both properties and dates and you can click each to expand and read about and book the individual property.

Map View

On the map, you can identify split stays via a new icon that is a half shaded house. When you press on that icon, both properties included as part of the split stay will be highlighted. You can click them to see additional details and book.

airbnb New Feature #3: aircover

Last but not least, Airbnb revealed the most comprehensive set of free protections when travel:

  • Booking Protection Guarantee – For if a host cancels your stay within 1 month of arrival
  • Check-In Guarantee – For if for some reason you can’t get into your AirBnb
  • Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee – For if something about your AirBnb doesn’t meet the description i.e. if your AC is broken.
  • 24 Hour Safety Line – trained specialists there to help if you ever feel unsafe.

According to the CEO, if ANY of these cases occur, they AirBnb will find you a similar or better home or they will refund you.

These customer protections should give you some peace of mind this traveling season. In the past, customers often complained of the support they received and often mentioned that Airbnb always sided with hosts. Let’s hope that Airbnb lives up to these big guarantees.

Where to find the details

To access the information on AirCover in the app, go to Profile —> Get Help —> Getting Protected through AirCover

So, is it revolutionary?

I have now given you the full breakdown of the “New Airbnb” features and how you can use them. Now I ask to you, is this latest change a revolutionary new way to book travel accommodation or just a great bit of marketing?

As someone who has used AirBnb to travel to the Netherlands, around the US, Greece, Portugal, and many more places I love the new update. More broadly, as someone who is very in tune with the travel and digital nomad communities (I was doing remote work + travel for over a year in 6+ countries), I think that Airbnb really hit this one out of the park, specifically with the categories.

Whether you participate or not, there is no denying that we live in a world where people are captivated by the mystical places that they see on social media. Thousands of social influencers are entrancing us into seeking unique and wondrous experiences.

With categories, Airbnb is helping the average person fulfill their fantasy by not only bringing awareness of the existence of such incredible places but inviting us to become a part of them!

High five Airbnb.

Catch y’all later, I’m about to go book my next vacation ✌️


Disclaimer I did this review purely due to my interest in travel. I have no partnership with Airbnb nor do I receive any kind of compensation.

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