Last summer, many travelers stayed close to home as the coronavirus pandemic raged. But this summer is shaping up to be very different.
Now that vaccines are widely available, more people are getting out and exploring different parts of the country. And many are opting for vacation rentals over hotel rooms, not just due to the cost savings involved, but, in some cases, for the added safety measure of having a place to themselves rather than having to share common areas.
In anticipation of a summer travel boom, Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) is taking steps to make its platform more flexible for travelers and rental property owners alike. Here's what real estate investors need to know.
Positive changes are in store
Airbnb is changing its platform in an effort to better appeal to guests and property owners at a time when it expects an uptick in bookings. In fact, things are already looking more positive in that regard.
During 2021's first quarter, Airbnb reported 64.4 million nights and experiences reserved. That's an increase of 39% from the previous quarter and an uptick of 13% from the first quarter of 2020.
Changes for guests
Airbnb is adding three new search options that include:
- Flexible listings: The platform's new search parameters will bring up listings even if they're slightly more expensive than what users indicate they want to spend or if the properties in question fall a bit outside the geographic area indicated in a search.
- Flexible destinations: The platform may recommend different unique homes as part of its search results or destinations slightly outside the original search inputs.
- Flexible dates: This feature was actually put into place months ago and lets users search for lodging at a given destination without a specific time frame.
In addition to these changes, Airbnb is launching a faster checkout process. It's also updating its review systems to make them more user-friendly, and it's making its cancellation policies more clear.
Changes for hosts
Airbnb is also making changes that may help vacation home owners find more guests and enjoy more bookings. Property owners will now have to follow just 10 steps to create a listing, as opposed to having to go through dozens of steps under the old setup. Plus, the new platform will make it easier for hosts to manage their bookings and answer guests' questions quickly.
Airbnb will also be doubling the number of customer support representatives it retains on staff this summer. Furthermore, Superhosts will get access to their own dedicated support team.
The bottom line
All told, Airbnb's changes could help drive a surge in bookings and allow vacation home owners to enjoy even more revenue as travel makes a comeback. Meanwhile, income property owners should take advantage of the upcoming travel boom by catering to guests to the greatest degree possible. That means offering added amenities, like higher-end soaps and towels and continuing to implement thorough sanitizing procedures between guests. After all, sometimes, it's the little touches that spell the difference between extra bookings or gaps during what could be the busiest period of the year.