[Credit: Airbnb]

Airbnb sets sights on expansion into long-term rental market

US: Home-sharing behemoth Airbnb is targeting an expansion into the long-term rental market, ahead of what CEO Brian Chesky is calling “the biggest update ever” next month.

Chesky has repeatedly said that long-term rentals [of 30 days or more] represent the largest growing segment of Airbnb bookings, largely spurred on by the rise in flexible / remote working patterns and the threat of incoming regulations in the short-term rental  market. The co-founder believes that long-term rentals could be “a huge opportunity” to realise his company’s potential, both in travel and also “beyond travel” experiences.

These “beyond travel” plans could range between growing Airbnb’s lodging options, trips and experiences and dining considerations, while Chesky has further hinted that the company could diversify into car rentals as well, given the global rise of ride-sharing apps such as Uber.

Ultimately, he wants Airbnb to become a tool that users can turn to on a daily basis for a variety of purposes, and not just in short-term accommodation planning and booking.

Last month, Chesky took to X [the platform formerly known as Twitter] to update hosts and guests on the latest updates made by the platform since its Summer Release upgrades in May. The enhancements that were the most urgently requested by users included: better search and filters; verified listings; better customer service; lower cleaning fees; and lower prices.

In May’s Summer Release, Airbnb unveiled more than 50 new features and upgrades for both hosts and guests such as:

  • The debut of a new Airbnb Rooms category, which gives access to shared spaces, host passports, redesigned filters and new privacy features
  • Total price display
  • Transparent checkout instructions
  • Improved maps
  • Redesigned checklists
  • Simpler and more affordable monthly stays
  • Priority customer service
  • Payments over time [via a partnership with Swedish fintech Klarna]
  • Instant rebooking credit

In the meantime, Airbnb announced last November that it would introduce ‘Airbnb-friendly’ apartments, a listing service exclusively for assets that allow short-term rentals in the United States.

As part of the home-sharing platform’s bit to make hosting more “accessible” to more people, Airbnb is enabling renters to find a place to live and sublet it on Airbnb part time when they are staying away from home. These renters are then able to host a spare room or entire apartment after Airbnb partnered with ‘Airbnb-friendly’ apartment buildings in US markets such as Houston, Phoenix and Jacksonville.

Amid a cost of living crisis, Airbnb said that it wants to help more people tap into the benefits of hosting and access new revenue streams, while the service is also designed to drive ancillary income for owners at the same time.

The regulatory landscape will also play on Chesky’s mind when it comes to broadening Airbnb’s offering into the long-term / extended stay market. Regulations affecting rentals of 30 days and under came into effect last month in New York City, while cities such as Florence, Vienna and Paris are also stepping up their efforts to restrict short-term rental listings due to their perceived impact on rising rents and a worsening affordable housing crisis.

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