Generally, the beginning of a holiday planning process consists of typing in your destination into a search bar and then picking your accommodations from a list of vacation spaces available on well-known OTAs. The same is true for Airbnb - the gargantuan hosting platform that has hosted over 800 million guests to date! With Airbnb's Summer release of 2022, the world of accommodations underwent an evolution as the company debuted its most significant overhaul to date and revamped its platform to make it easier for travelers to find their ultimate holiday destination.
The new design diminishes the need for a search box for destination choices. Instead, it leads you to a vacation guide encompassing a wide range of 56 categories, which gives a vivid preview of what to do upon arrival at your destination, wherever that may be in the world.
“The way people travel has changed forever. That’s why we’re introducing the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade”
- Brian Chesky, CEO, and Co-Founder, Airbnb
Airbnb is organizing listings using structured data that is derived from machine learning and manual reviews. The company's most significant update in over a decade combines the best search system designed around Airbnb categories, Split Stays, and AirCover. In their press release, Airbnb explained that Airbnb Categories allow guests to "easily explore Airbnb's world and discover places they would not have known to search for".
“First, people are more flexible about where they live and work, so we’ve designed a new way to search with Airbnb Categories. Second, people are taking longer trips, so we created Split Stays to give you more options by splitting your trip between two homes. And third, we’re introducing AirCover for guests, giving you the confidence to book knowing that Airbnb’s got your back.” - __Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-Founder __
The most significant and stand-out feature is the Airbnb Categories feature. We will go into more detail as to the meaning of these changes and what they mean for you as well as your guests.
Effortlessly innovative, the ramping up of flexible search (introduced in 2021) culminates in the new release, which puts Airbnb categories in the spotlight. With the traveler-centric redesign, any guest searching on Airbnb can plan their perfect stay.
Airbnb Categories organize properties into curated collections of homes chosen for their style, location, or nearby activities. The navigation menu reveals 56 dynamic categories on the website that have been created to allow travellers the chance to find a wider variety of properties and exceptional destinations compared to a traditional search box.
Besides these goals, it is also aimed at providing greater visibility to listings that would not otherwise receive much attention.
By grouping listings by their characteristics, this classification makes the listings highly distinctive.
The diverse category classification includes holiday homes based on location, for instance, A Desert Dome in Joshua Tree, a Beachfront in the Maldives, a Treehouse in Sri Lanka, A Lakefront property in India, or National Park in the Smoky Mountains. You could also search for activity-based holiday spots such as Ski-in/out, Skiing, Surfing, or Golfing.
Bear in mind - these are not new listings - these homes and locations were already on the site, but have been made more visible by the categorization overhaul.
This revamp has the most significant impact in enticing users to explore the category tabs. It is quite possible that the person scrolling will be overwhelmed by curiosity and even find themselves in a place they did not intend to visit. It could provide a useful tool for turning browsing tourists into converted customers.
Additionally, properties that hadn't been appearing previously might now do so.
The most exciting change in Airbnb Categories is the immersive feature, which is intended to draw the attention of prospective guests to Airbnb's strongest selling point: the possibility to travel to incredibly diverse destinations around the world.
From a positive perspective, this could be a game-changer for hosts. As Brian Chesky puts it, the aim is to “show places that you would never have thought to search for.” This will lead people to less-known cities: “We’re in 10,000 cities and most people can’t think of that many cities.”
Whether you're a host or a property manager - one crucial fact to understand is that properties in each category now go through the curation process, to access their perfect fit. Each of the millions of active listings on Airbnb is analyzed using machine learning to look at titles, descriptions, photographs, photo descriptions, and guest reviews of each property. Therefore, you need to ensure that your listing information is up to date and complete at all times.
Despite some hosts' complaints that their listing titles have been replaced and do not appear in the same searches, this change has helped properties that weren't featured before to come up in more searches.
You should emphasize in your listing what makes your property different or unique, as this is the main criterion. Property listings can be featured in more than one category, so be sure to decide which category your property should be highlighted in, then write your listing accordingly.
By ensuring you use the terms associated with the category for which your property will be shown, you will be able to influence the results.
For instance, If you own a Tent Cabin, you can mention the cabin's amenities, surrounding activities, and location in your listing's title and description.
Guest reviews are a crucial factor considered when ranking high and visibility on the top pages of the Airbnb website. Your previous reviews will take precedence, but remember to mention specific features you wish to promote in your properties. When guests write reviews, they will reference these specific features. You must promote the features you want to appear in their reviews when your rental is shown to potential guests in the future. This will also ensure you fall under the correct category as well.
In a category, photos that are representative of it and have the potential to inspire are featured more prominently. Include high-quality photographs of your listing. Particularly the cover photo, which is the most important factor in having guests click on your listing. In this photo, you should highlight your house's best feature or the part you envision guests using most. Besides paying attention to all the images you include, make sure you emphasize any special amenities or items you wish to showcase.
For example, if you have a grand piano in your historical home, you might want to include a picture. The listing will appear under both Historical homes and Grand Pianos.
The key is in what you choose to include in your listing. More accurate information increases your listing's chance of ranking. Amazing views, historical sites in the surrounding area such as museums or castles, hiking trails, national parks in close proximity, beaches or golf courses, eateries, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops - the list goes on and on. By including more details, you have a better chance of being ranked under several categories. Do your research and make sure the information you include is accurate. Don't let guests leave bad reviews with exaggerated or false information on your listing.
To sum it up, it might be time to revisit your listing and make some changes if you have been on Airbnb for a while. Adding new images, including missing information or a facelift, can give your listing a new lease of life and more opportunities to showcase your properties to prospective guests.
As part of the ranking system, listings will continue to be ranked on multiple factors, including quality, price, popularity, proximity in location searches, and photo quality. Make sure your listing is current, accurate, and complete at all times. Don't forget to include unique features of your property in your listing settings, such as any historical significance and/or design attributes. Tweak where necessary!
These new features which have been added are designed to help more guests find great places like your property. According to Airbnb sources, when guests search by a specific destination, they’ll discover listings within a category called All Homes. They’ll also get additional categories based on that location, making it easy to discover incredible homes within, or just beyond, their search area. Listings can appear in multiple categories, too. The categories allow guests to find accommodations they might not otherwise discover.
Airbnb has also stated this is just the beginning of getting started with these new categories. Over time, they plan to introduce even more categories that showcase the unique features and special locations of your properties. Keep an eye out for updates and stay tuned.
We'll let you know when that's happening too!