Airbnb to offer Canadians added protection and more search categories as part of global rollout

The change is the company’s most significant in the past decade

Canadians looking to book their summer getaways on Airbnb might want to wait until Friday when the company releases a handful of new features.

Called the Summer Release, Airbnb says this is the most significant change it’s made to the platform in the past decade, following a turbulent two years that changed the way people travel.

The new features include ‘Airbnb Categories,’ ‘Split Stays, ‘ and ‘Aircover.’

Airbnb Categories allow users to search for stays in a new way, making it easier to discover a home in the 100,000 towns and cities Airbnb operates worldwide. The update will present users with 56 categories of homes, organized by style, location, and proximity. Categories relevant to the searched destination will come up.

The Verge reports that Jony Ive, Apple’s former chief designer, collaborated with Airbnb on the updates.

Split Stays allows travellers to split their stay between two homes, giving them options for alternate accommodation if their chosen venue isn’t available for the entirety of their trip.

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, told MobileSyrup Split Stays is inspired by the growing trend of long-term stays the company saw throughout the pandemic.

Stays lasting 28 days or longer more than doubled between Q1 2019 and Q1 2022. These stays now represent one in five nights booked on Airbnb, Blecharczyk said.

“This type of travel has grown over the course of the pandemic. I think what’s driving it is the fact that people have the flexibility to continue to work while they’re travelling. They don’t have to rush back home in time to go into the office on Monday, they can just stay where they are.”

A survey conducted by Airbnb found that 16 percent of respondents who travelled to Canada in 2021 were staying at their chosen location while working remotely.

Split Stays comes up automatically to assist customers with their accommodation needs. Viewing the locations through the map shows the distance between the two stays, and each place is booked one at a time.

Aircover offers travellers a new, expanded set of protections. The company says the change represents the most significant upgrade to customer services in the past decade. The service is always included in the booking and is free.

It includes:

  • Booking protection guarantee: If a host cancels a booking within 30-days of check-in, Airbnb will find a similar or better home or offer a refund.
  • Check-in guarantee: If a customer can’t enter their rented property and the host can’t resolve the issue, Airbnb will find an alternative location or provide a refund.
  • Get-what-you-booked guarantee: If a customer’s stay isn’t as advertised, they have three days to report it and switch to a better home or secure a refund.

The previous time frame for the get-what-you-booked guarantee was 24-hours. The change to 72-hours shows the company’s plans to support customers, Blecharczyk said.

“It’s basically making sure that guests are well supported throughout their trip, and that when changes are necessary, it’s easy to do that in the app [and] you can see what your alternatives are.”

American users will experience the change before their Canadian counterparts, having the updates on Wednesday. The delayed release in Canada has to do with the size of the release and the time it takes to make the changes, Blecharczyk said.

Article updated 11/05/2022 11:40am EST: The release day has been updated to reflect the launch date.

Image credit: Airbnb

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