Airbnb refocuses on cheap rooms as its rentals get pricier | Engadget

The pandemic is over, according to Airbnb (that’s debatable), so the company is gearing up for a massive summer vacation. It is introducing more than 50 new features to its rental platform, including an expansion of the more transparent pricing it introduced last year. The most important thing, however, is to refocus on the storyline that made the company a success: being able to easily rent rooms at low cost. It’s relaunching that experience as “Airbnb Rooms,” which will make it easier to find private rooms and offer more details up-front to potential renters.

A new “Host Passport” feature will help you get to know hosts before you book, a useful feature since you’ll most likely be sharing their living space. The listings can also show if a bedroom has its own lock and if the bathrooms are private or shared with the host. “Airbnb rooms are often more affordable than hotels, and are the most authentic way to experience a city,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “This is the soul of Airbnb.”

The company says it will have more than a million Airbnb room listings, and more than 80 percent of them will cost less than $100 a night. Considering how much Airbnb’s prices have skyrocketed in recent years, as hosts have increased cleaning costs and built small rental empires, it makes sense that the company would highlight its most affordable offerings. For many travelers, including this reporter, hotels often seem cheaper and easier to book than many Airbnb options.

As for other updates, Airbnb will also let you see payment instructions before completing a reservation (which could be a useful red flag for potential nightmarish hosts), improved map performance, and completely revamped wish lists. (including the ability to write notes). The company is also reducing service fees for stays longer than three months, as well as for stays longer than one month if you pay with a linked bank account. It’s no surprise that Airbnb is also getting into the payment game over time with a new partnership with Klarna.

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