A lot of news has come out of Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) since the pandemic started. There were new cleaning protocols, an IPO, and most recently, the shutdown of its affiliate program. It's been a lot for hosts to keep track of, to say the least. Now, there's yet another headline to take note of: a new search feature.
According to a recent announcement from the company, Airbnb will now include a "Flexible Dates" option for guests booking on the platform. This apparently coincides better with post-pandemic travel preferences and is now live and available on both the app and website.
Do you currently own an Airbnb short-term rental? Here's what the new search function means for you -- and how you can leverage it.
The how and why
The new feature isn't a game-changer by any means, but it is something hosts can use to their advantage.
Here's how it works, according to Airbnb: "Instead of selecting exact dates at the beginning of a search, guests can search for new options like a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation, or even a month-long or months-long stay. This will allow them to browse more options while staying flexible on the exact dates of their trip to make their trip fit with their schedules."
Several industry reports indicate a growing interest in longer-term stays these days, and according to Airbnb's data, at least a third of travelers this year have been flexible on travel dates (as well as locations). This is likely due to continued work-from-home and virtual school arrangements.
"The traditional travel industry was built around fixed destinations with fixed dates in mind, but that model no longer meets the needs of today's travelers," Airbnb said in its release. "We believe these shifts will continue even after the pandemic fades, and that for those with new flexibility to choose their dates, travel will increasingly become a way of life."
What it means for investors
For short-term rental investors, there are a few things to think about. First, it brings pricing to the forefront. With guests now able to shop around and compare various weeks, weekends, and months with a couple of clicks, it's more important than ever that your property be priced right -- or, ideally, better than your competitors.
Second, offering longer-term stays will be important. These have been trending since early last year, with many families using Airbnbs as quarantine getaways -- and often in off-peak times, too (not on spring break or summer like they'd usually be).
Finally, standing out is going to be critical with guests using this search function. You'll want your headline, main photo, or in-home amenities to set you apart from other properties they see displayed -- particularly if you're not the lowest on pricing.
The bottom line
Airbnb's new feature isn't going to upend your rental profits, but it should make you take a careful look at your pricing and marketing strategy. Leveraged properly, the flexible search function could lead to some pretty sizable revenues -- especially if you're able to snag some of those weeks- or months-long bookings.
Want more ways to improve your bottom line? Consider adding these amenities to your Airbnb property. And if you're just getting started, here is our beginner's guide to Airbnb hosting.