Airbnb’s Winter Release is a yearly moment of truth and excitement for the vacation rental community. And the 2023 Winter Release is all about one thing: the ‘moment of truth’ for guests — the booking experience.
Surprises are not usually synonymous with a good guest experience. Guests depend on Airbnb property owners and managers to set, and follow through on, clear expectations for their stay.
But when you’re the dominant online travel agency (OTA) with over 7 million listings, Airbnb has started to hear from guests that all that variety in listings can make it hard to know what they're actually going to get when it comes time for check-in — leading some to opt for a hotel stay instead.
Here are the three major upgrades for Airbnb’s 2023 Winter release, all centered around giving travelers a clearer picture of what to expect, so hosts can nail that ‘moment of truth’.
One way Airbnb aims to tackle its biggest obstacle to guests booking on its platform is through curation.
Guests Favorites is a collection of vacation rentals based on ratings, reviews and reliability.
Featuring 2 million properties, each listing has:
An excellent record on reliability with an average of less than 1% of cancellations initiated by the host or quality-related issues
Guest Favorite Airbnb properties will feature a badge that shows up on its listing page as well as Airbnb search results. Guests can also filter their search for Guest Favorites.
According to Airbnb, guests have left over 371 million reviews with 100 5-star reviews submitted from around the world every minute.
But Airbnb users sometimes find it hard to discover relevant reviews when making the decision to book. The revamped page is designed to make reviews more helpful to guests and easier to read.
Guests can now sort reviews by rating or recency, making it easier to find reviews that are relevant to them.
The page features a rating distribution chart, of reviews from 1 to 5 stars, letting guests gauge each listing faster.
Reviews will also feature more information about the guest and their trip.
Details include where they are from, their length of stay and who they traveled with—pets, family, etc. This will help potential guests understand if the review is useful relative to their own traveling needs.
Airbnb is also introducing the Listings tab as part of its Winter Release, aimed at helping hosts to add more details to their Airbnb listings that guests actually care about.
Airbnb CEO Chesky said in a Winter Release Update video that many listings are missing these important information because hosts find it hard to add them even though listings with more details get up to 20% more bookings.
The Listings tab is a set of new Airbnb management tools and services that will make it easier for hosts to manage their listings and showcase their property. It includes:
Airbnb has redesigned the existing interface to make it easier for hosts to add property details such as amenities and edit their Arrival Guide including wi-fi details, house manual and check-in instructions so guests know what to expect when they arrive at the property.
Airbnb property managers can also view their Arrival Guide just the way guests see it so they can make better edits.
Only 10% of Airbnb listings currently have a photo tour. But Airbnb property managers can now use Airbnb’s custom AI engine to create a photo tour, instantly.
The AI engine recognizes each photo and organizes them by rooms, giving travelers a better understanding of the property layout. Airbnb hosts can edit the photo tour created and even add amenities to each of the rooms.
There are 40 custom icons for different rooms and spaces.
Airbnb will be providing smart lock support services for certain locks from August, Yale and Schlage for Airbnb properties in the U.S. and Canada. Canadian and U.S. property managers who use a compatible smart lock can now directly connect it to their Airbnb account.
A unique code will be generated automatically for each reservation and guests can view the entry code in their Airbnb app.
Codes are only active during the guest trip. Hosts can add extra time, for example, if they want to allow their guests a late check-out.
The Airbnb 2023 Winter Release also features a number of other upgrades for Airbnb hosts.
When hosts set prices, they will now include service fees so property managers know exactly how much their guests are paying.
Airbnb is giving hosts the ability to compare their pricing to other similar listings, directly in their calendar.
Airbnb has updated its host dashboard so property managers have a clearer view of their revenue. The dashboard will provide a detailed breakdown of past and future payments and personalized reports. It will also include filters and search.
The Winter Release will bring two new options to pay cohosts. Owners can share the cleaning fee or share the cleaning fee plus a percentage of the booking amount.
Most of the new features in the 2023 Airbnb Winter Release are officially live as of November 8, 2023.
Smart lock integration for U.S. and Canada-based listings will begin rolling out this year while pricing visibility and comparison will only be available next year.
At the heart of this release lies a singular focus — enhancing the 'moment of truth' for guests, i.e. making their decision to book. In a marketplace of more than 7 million listings, guests find it hard to discern what they will get and the Guest Favorites is Airbnb’s answer.
Achieving the Guest Favorites badge will enable qualifying properties to stand out in the sea of competitors worldwide and will push more Airbnb property managers to step up their game and professionalize further.
The redesigned Ratings & Reviews page will further prioritize Airbnb property managers focused on getting a good review every time as well as each of the factors they are rated on. Superhosts with their super high ratings average and super low cancellation rate will have a leg up on those hosts who are not yet meeting these standards.
The detailed reviews by guests will also help potential guests figure out if each property is a good fit for their travel considerations and decrease the chances of a bad fit between guests and their choice of Airbnb property.
Meanwhile Airbnb property managers can leverage the new Listings Tab to showcase their properties better and optimize their listings further. The AI-powered photo editor will help Airbnb hosts to help guests envision their offerings better and by filling out the amenities in each room and in the listing, savvy Airbnb managers can increase conversion, up to 20% according Chesky.
The new pricing visibility and pricing comparison features will provide Airbnb managers greater convenience as they enable these hosting tasks to be easily done within the platform itself.
The new Airbnb property management tools like earnings dashboard, cohost payout and direct smart lock integrations will extend Airbnb hosts not already using Airbnb property management software property management features not available to them. This will also help Airbnb dissuade these property managers from simultaneously listing on other OTAs or do direct booking.
The Airbnb 2023 Winter Release is more than just an update. It’s a strategic roadmap for Airbnb’s new direction, ushering in self check-in, better host-guest fit and higher host standards to the platform.