Airbnb Just Made It Easier to Find Quality Listings

CEO Brian Chesky asked, “What if we could combine the uniqueness of an Airbnb with the reliability that you’ve come to expect of a hotel?”

A-frame cabin in a forest at sunset

With 318 reviews and an average rating of 4.99, this cabin in Lac-Beauport, Canada is part of Airbnb’s new Guest Favorites collection.

Courtesy of Airbnb

In May, Airbnb released 50 new features and upgrades to fix common customer complaints, like excessive cleaning fees, chores, and hidden charges. But Airbnb didn’t stop there. Today, the vacation rental platform announced three additional upgrades for both guests and hosts to make creating and discovering quality listings on its platform easier.

“Airbnb has over 7 million homes around the world. They’re truly one of a kind, and this uniqueness is what makes Airbnb special,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said during a press conference in New York City on November 7. But he acknowledged the number one reason people often choose hotels over Airbnb is because they’re not as unique. “You know exactly what you’re going to get with a hotel,” Chesky said.

Of course, Airbnb isn’t aloof to the customer complaints that have proliferated in recent years. But according to Chesky, 23 percent of new Airbnb guests book lower-rated listings. Since guests are struggling to figure out the difference between a good and bad listing, Airbnb needed to find a way to point guests to the best of the best. As it turns out, Airbnb knows exactly what the good listings are, thanks to the 371 million guest reviews the platform has accumulated since it launched in 2008.

So Chesky said the team at Airbnb took all of this information and asked, “What if we could combine the uniqueness of an Airbnb with the reliability that you’ve come to expect of a hotel?”

A new “Guest Favorites” collection

Screenshots of new Guest Favorites listings on Airbnb's app on an iPhone

The new Guest Favorites designation will appear as a badge on Airbnb listings that qualify.

Courtesy of Airbnb

The result is Guest Favorites, a new collection of the most-loved homes on Airbnb that launched on the app on November 8. (This effectively replaces the Airbnb Plus category that was retired quietly on November 6.) Now, when guests search for a vacation rental, listings marked with a “Guest Favorites” badge appear in search results, in the same way “Superhosts” are available to sort in search results.

The Guest Favorites collection launched with 2 million homes around the world, including the charming A-frame cabin outside of Quebec City seen above. More will be added as new listings gather more reviews. “Now, to put this in perspective, Hilton Hotels, one of the largest chains in the world, has about 1.1 million rooms worldwide,” Chesky said.

Airbnb determined which homes received the new Guest Favorites designation based on “ratings, reviews, and reliability,” Chesky said. To qualify, listings must have a minimum of five reviews, an average host cancellation rate of 1 percent, and an incident rate of less than 1 percent. At the time of the launch, Guest Favorite listings have an average rating of 4.92 out of 5. (Airbnb couldn’t confirm a minimum rating required since the designation is built on a dynamic model that will change as ratings come in.)

Improved ratings and reviews

Screenshots of the new ratings and reviews page on Airbnb's app on an iPhone

With improved ratings and reviews, guests can now easily see an Airbnb’s cleanliness score and find out more about the reviewers.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb also completely redesigned its ratings and reviews pages because “ratings and reviews are the best way to understand the quality of a listing,” Chesky said. According to him, the former reviews page provided too little information, making it difficult for guests to find reviews relevant to them.

The redesign makes the ratings easier to read, putting the overall rating and subcategory ratings (like cleanliness and value) front and center. Reviews now include more information about past guests—including where they’re from, their length of stay, and if they’ve traveled with kids, pets, or a large group—and can be sorted by highest rated or by most recent stay.

New listings tab for hosts

Screenshots of the Airbnb mobile app Listings Tab on an iPhone

The new Listings Tab makes it easier for hosts to create photo tours of their home and generate unique smart lock codes for each guest before check-in.

Courtesy of Airbnb

The third and final part of Airbnb’s latest release makes it easier for hosts to manage their listings and add key details that guests care about. This will, in turn, hopefully make it simpler for guests to understand what they’re booking.

For example, before these changes, Airbnb said only 17 percent of hosts had added details about sleeping arrangements and only 8 percent manually tagged images to create a photo tour to help guests understand the layout of the home.

To fix this, Airbnb had its designers and engineers redesign the app to put a newly simplified listings tab front and center. Now, amenities are listed out alphabetically, instead of by category, to make them easier for hosts to find and tag, and Airbnb trained AI to sort photos and automatically organize them by room to create a photo tour to better show what the layout of the house looks like.

Finally, Airbnb has connected its app to smart lock systems—including Schlage, Yale, and August—so hosts can integrate their accounts with the Airbnb app to create a custom generated code for each reservation. The host can also decide via the app how long before and after the reservation the code will be active. To help guests figure out how to use lock systems they may be unfamiliar with, Airbnb has also added custom animations to each check-in page to illustrate how to input the codes.

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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