June 19, 2017

Airbnb tries to behave more like a hotel


Less chatting on the couch; fewer idiosyncratic toiletries in the bath. Pursuing growth, the company promotes consistency among its millions of hosts.

In just nine years, the company has built a global hospitality brand on the backs of homeowners like Ms. Bishop. The company’s valuation has skyrocketed to more than $30 billion. Yet to expand further, Airbnb must attract travelers who prefer the predictability of hotels to the quirky array of spare rooms, empty homes and even the occasional yurt that Airbnb has long touted as its backbone.

Travelers accustomed to hotels have come to expect that they can automatically book an Airbnb without having to ask first for the owner’s permission — something that has long been a fixture of the hotel booking process. They want to know that their reservation is firm. They expect fresh linens and privacy. They also anticipate that hosts will act like hotel staff members, meaning they will be courteous and blend into the background.

As a result, Airbnb’s hosts have had to deal with more rules, fees and guidelines. Many have taken on responsibilities that would be handled at the front desk of a hotel, such as explaining (and sometimes collecting) an expanding list of fees and taxes. They are grappling with new tools that let travelers instantly book Airbnbs, much like a hotel reservation system. Airbnb has also introduced recommendations around cancellations and check-in times that mirror those of hotels, and it allows guests to hide listings that ignore that guidance.

Get the full story at The New York Times