On Wednesday, Airbnb announced it will be introducing over 50 new features and upgrades to its platform, including the return of staying in strangers' spare rooms with the launch of "Airbnb Rooms". The company said it aims to make it easier for travelers to connect with people and have authentic experiences while traveling affordably. Guests who use Airbnb Rooms will have access to the "Host Passport", which includes details that the hosts have shared about themselves, such as their educational and work backgrounds. The top five "trending" destinations where the number of people staying in private rooms is increasing are Seoul, Korea; Melbourne, Australia; Warsaw, Poland; Sydney, Australia; and Florence, Italy.
Among the other changes, Airbnb listed seven that aim to improve the guest's experience, including better, faster maps and a redesign of guest wishlists. Listings will now include clearer and more transparent checkout instructions, which customers have previously complained about. The company also introduced a partnership with buy-now-pay-later service Klarna, allowing guests in the United States and Canada to spread the cost of their rentals in four interest-free installments over six weeks.
The way in which longer-term stays — those over a month — work has also been changed, the announcement said, including tweaks to the fees guests are charged for stays over three months. Airbnb added that it's already got bookings in over 72,000 cities worldwide ahead of the summer. The new improvements can be used immediately, the company said.
Airbnb was founded in 2007 by three men, CEO Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk — who had the idea of renting out air mattresses in their apartments as a cheap alternative to traditional hotels. Chesky said, "We're getting back to the idea that started it all. Airbnb Rooms are often more affordable than hotels, and they're the most authentic way to experience a city. This is the soul of Airbnb." The company's parent company, Axel Springer, is an investor in Airbnb.