NEW YORK--Airbnb on Wednesday announced new upgrades to its booking platform to make it more competitive with hotels, such as revamping its ratings and reviews pages and highlighting "guest favorites," or homes with a near-perfect rating.
The San Francisco-based company said by creating a more reliable experience for travelers it can capture more demand as consumers continue to plan vacations despite the higher cost of travel compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. "Airbnb is pretty big. For as big as we are, almost 10 times as many people stay in hotels," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told Reuters in an interview. The company reported last week that 113.2 million nights and experiences were booked during the third quarter, a 14% year-over-year increase. The company launched "guest favorites" a collection of 2 million of its 7 million homes that are "most loved" based on reviews and reliability and are rated above 4.9 stars on average. The top reason why people stay in hotels is because they know what they are going to get and it is reliable, Chesky said, adding that making Airbnb more tried-and-true based on reviews would aid with growth. The company said about 23% of first-time Airbnb guests book a low-rated home. Airbnb also redesigned its ratings page to give guests the option to sort through reviews and introduced a new set of new tools for hosts to share more details about their listing. This includes an artificial intelligence-powered photo tour that organizes photos by room to help guests understand the home's layout. The company plans to announce improvements to its customer service next summer based on feedback from guest and hosts, Chesky said.