Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Airbnb Launches New Host Tools, in Bid to Be Known for Its Hospitality

There are lots of sites and services that help people rent space — from hotels to vacation rentals — to other people. In the past few years, Airbnb has become one of the better ones, because its nearly 500,000 accommodations are diverse and widely scattered across 192 countries and 34,000 cities – and not just in the normal tourist traps — and its peer-to-peer community creates an atmosphere of trust and friendliness between users.

Airbnb's host tools now include groups for them to swap tips.

Airbnb’s host tools now include groups for them to swap tips.

The company behind Airbnb said its next big step is to improve its hospitality. But Airbnb doesn’t actually control many aspects of its guests’ experiences, because just about everything comes back to the work done by its 350,000 hosts.

So, while being careful not to imply that they currently do a bad job, Airbnb is now giving hosts a set of new tools and best practices. It had a sort of host conference today at its fancy new San Francisco headquarters (also streamed online); press was invited to attend, as well. “We are a community-driven hospitality company,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told the hundreds gathered in person, and thousands virtually.

However, what Airbnb is launching today isn’t anything crazy or unexpected. There are revamped iOS and Android apps that give hosts the ability to manage many aspects of their listings directly from their phones. Tweaks like the ability to manage multiple bookings in one stream got much applause.

Airbnb is also adding editorial content about great experiences, as well as groups for hosts to meet and share tips. And it has developed a set of nine “hospitality standards” that it is distributing to the hosts, including things like providing accuracy in booking, warm welcomes, cleanliness and special personalized touches.

In a yet-to-be-released feature, sometime in 2014, users will be able to earn perks, privileges and travel credits for being good hosts.

“Airbnb is a company that was founded by hosts, for hosts,” Chesky said, noting that the company started in an apartment in San Francisco, where he and his co-founders welcomed the site’s first guests. He invited hosts to stop by headquarters in San Francisco anytime.

“In the early days, we thought of ourselves as a travel company,” said Chesky. Over time, he was persuaded to change his mind. “We’re bringing back this age-old idea. We are a hospitality company, that’s what we do when we welcome people into our homes.”


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”