Understanding Airbnb’s Strategic Intentions with Airbnb Rooms and Host Passports

Thibault Masson

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airbnb rooms and host passport

During its 2023 Summer Release, Airbnd unveiled its renewed will to promote private rooms on its platform. The introduction of Airbnb Rooms and Host Passports aims to appeal to younger, budget-conscious travelers while providing an added layer of trust and connection between hosts and guests.

airbnb rooms

Private rooms on Airbnb: Back to the future

Some aspects of Airbnb Rooms are not new, as the platform has previously promoted private rooms under a category called Rooms. This category was launched last fall, and since then, Airbnb has been promoting private rooms as an affordable and authentic way to experience a new city.

In recent months, Airbnb has been actively promoting and rediscovering the private room rental category, which involves renting a bedroom in someone’s home. This shift in focus towards private rooms was noted by Rental Scale-Up in November 2022, with new private room listings up by 31% between Q3 2021 and Q3 2022. During its 2022 Winter Release, Airbnb also announced that “Private Rooms” had become a standalone category on its platform, which is expected to increase visibility, traffic, and bookings for this type of accommodation.

The renewed emphasis on private rooms is also evident in a recent video featuring Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, where he lists a bedroom in his own apartment on the platform. This move further underscores Airbnb’s commitment to promoting private room rentals and encouraging travelers to book them

What are Airbnb Rooms?

Airbnb Rooms is a new category within the Airbnb app and website that offers guests the opportunity to stay in unique, affordable accommodations hosted by local hosts. To help guests feel comfortable staying with a host, Airbnb has introduced the Host Passport, which allows guests to get to know their host before booking.

The Host Passport provides basic information about the host, such as their rating, and fun details about their interests and hobbies. Guests can swipe up to learn even more about their host, including their work experience, languages spoken, and anything else they choose to share.

Here are some quotes from Brian Chesky that give insights into Airbnb’s intentions:

  • “Staying with a host was the original idea behind Airbnb…we want more people to try it.”
  • “These host passports are really fun to look at and they’re a great way to get to know your host before you meet them in person.”
  • “The most memorable part of traveling is the other people you’re with…meeting someone new, walking in their shoes, and seeing a city through their eyes. This is the soul of Airbnb and of Airbnb rooms.”

Overall, Airbnb Rooms and the Host Passport aim to enhance the human connection and community aspect of travel by offering guests the opportunity to stay with local hosts and get to know them on a personal level.

Why is Airbnb introducing Airbnb Rooms?

Introducing Airbnb Rooms is a strategic move for the company to cater to Gen Z travelers, who tend to be younger, have limited budgets, and crave connections. By emphasizing the affordability and authentic experiences associated with staying in a private room, Airbnb can attract Gen Z travelers looking for cost-effective and engaging travel experiences. More than 80 percent of private rooms are under $100/night, with an average rate of $67/night, making it a budget-friendly option for this demographic.

Moreover, the introduction of Airbnb Rooms and the associated features can help lower the perception that Airbnb has become an expensive choice for booking a trip. By showcasing a dedicated Rooms category with over 1 million listings, redesigned filters, and new privacy features, Airbnb is actively working to change this perception and provide more affordable options to travelers.

airbnb rooms host passport

One of the new features introduced with Airbnb Rooms is the Host Passport, which replaces Host Profiles. Host Passports require hosts to provide more information about themselves, allowing guests to feel more comfortable and familiar with their hosts before booking a stay. This added layer of trust and connection can further appeal to Gen Z travelers and other guests who value authentic experiences and connections with locals during their travel

Several hypotheses emerge about the company’s intentions behind this move:

  1. Capturing the Gen Z market: Airbnb Rooms aim to attract younger travelers with limited budgets who crave connections. The hope is that these clients will eventually upgrade to entire vacation rentals, much like their Millennial predecessors.
  2. Attracting new hosts: By appealing to potential hosts who currently only have a spare room to list, Airbnb can expand its contact base and encourage these hosts to list entire homes or even second homes in the future.
  3. Counteracting the perception of being expensive: Airbnb Rooms help address the notion that the platform is pricier than hotels, as voiced by social media users.
  4. Rebranding by returning to its roots: While continuing to offer Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe properties, the company adjusts its brand by focusing on shared spaces and authentic experiences.
  5. Dispelling the anonymous investor image: By emphasizing individual hosts, Airbnb Rooms counter the perception that faceless investors and companies mostly run its supply.
  6. Maintaining supply in restricted areas: In cities with heavy restrictions or bans on short-term rentals, Airbnb Rooms allow the platform to provide guests with accommodation options.
  7. Addressing the housing crisis issue: Instead of contributing to tenant displacement, Airbnb Rooms demonstrate the platform’s commitment to helping average people retain their homes and supplement their income.
  8. Fostering connections among users: With the Host Passport feature, Airbnb collects more data about hosts, potentially enabling better matches between hosts and guests and reducing the feeling of loneliness among young travelers.
airbnb host passport

Airbnb Rooms + Airbnb-Friendly Apartments: Is Airbnb Roommates next?

Another intriguing hypothesis emerges as Airbnb ventures into the housing market with its Airbnb-Friendly Apartments. It is conceivable that in the future, these apartments may list individual bedrooms on the platform, allowing guests to find not only the best place to live but also the ideal roommates to share the space with. Leveraging the extensive data collected on its guests, Airbnb could potentially revolutionize the process of finding housing and compatible cohabitants, further expanding its reach and impact in the residential market.

Airbnb Rooms vs security concerns

When Airbnb first introduced Private Rooms, it was not without its flaws, with several reports of abuse and assaults on solo female travelers by hosts. As a result, Airbnb stopped promoting private rooms, but with the launch of Airbnb Rooms, the company is taking steps to address personal security concerns for both hosts and guests.

airbnb rooms privacy and security
  1. Host vetting: Ensuring that hosts go through a thorough vetting process, including identity verification and background checks, will help enhance the trust and security on the platform.
  2. Host Passport: The introduction of Host Passport allows guests to get to know their hosts better before booking their stay. This feature includes a larger photo and personal details shared by the host, such as their education, occupation, and fun facts. This information can help guests feel more comfortable and secure when staying with a host.
  3. Clear communication of privacy features: Airbnb Rooms should clearly indicate the privacy features available in each listing, such as bedroom door locks and shared or private bathrooms. This transparency will help guests make informed decisions and feel more secure during their stay.
  4. Strict house rules and guidelines: Implementing and enforcing strict house rules and guidelines can help maintain a safe environment for both hosts and guests. This includes guidelines for behavior, noise levels, and respecting the host’s property.
  5. Review system: A transparent and reliable review system allows guests to share their experiences and rate hosts based on various factors, such as cleanliness, communication, and security. This feedback can help future guests make informed decisions and encourage hosts to maintain high standards.
  6. 24/7 customer support: Providing round-the-clock customer support can help address any concerns or issues that may arise during a guest’s stay, further ensuring their safety and satisfaction.

The intriguing Airbnb Passport for Hosts

Airbnb host passport

Airbnb has introduced a new feature called the Host Passport, which is designed to help guests get to know their hosts better before booking their stay. The passport is visible on the listing photo in the search results, and it contains a large photo of the host. When users click on the small photo, it opens up to show the Host Passport. In the search result, the profession about the host is also show (e.g. Ar

Airbnb host passport

The Host Passport overview includes the host’s first name, Superhost status (or not), the number of reviews, average rating, rating, and the number of years hosting. Meanwhile, the detailed Host Passport provides more information, such as the host’s work, languages spoken, where they live, where they went to school, and the decade they were born.

Airbnb host passport

The Host Passport also includes fun facts about the host, such as their favorite song in high school, their most useless skill, and what they would title their biography. Additionally, hosts can share their interests, including sports, animals, cooking, food, movies, travel, outdoors, video games, board games, reading, and museums.

Airbnb host passport

Finally, the Host Passport includes a section called “Your past trips,” which shows the destinations the host has traveled to, including trips booked on Airbnb.

It’s worth noting that on the rest of the website, the host’s photo is hidden until the booking is made. Airbnb had done this as data had shown that black hosts were discriminated against. However, the detailed information provided in the Host Passport raises questions about whether this could lead to more discrimination.

Are Host Passports and their refined host data and preference to the door to AI matching with guests?

If Airbnb were to use AI to match hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport, it could potentially work by analyzing both the host and guest profiles to identify common interests, preferences, and lifestyles. The AI could take into account factors such as age, gender, location, interests, and past trips to create a compatibility score between hosts and guests.

For example, if a guest is interested in cooking and the host has listed cooking as one of their interests, the AI could recommend this host to the guest. Alternatively, if a guest is interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and the host has listed hiking as one of their interests, the AI could recommend this host as well.

The AI could also take into account other factors such as the host’s Superhost status, number of reviews, and average rating to ensure that the guest is matched with a trustworthy and reliable host.

Overall, by using AI to match hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport, Airbnb could potentially create a more personalized and enjoyable experience for both hosts and guests, while also improving the overall quality of its platform.

The approach that Airbnb takes to matching hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport would ultimately depend on their values and priorities as a company. If they prioritize creating a positive and playful experience for their users, they may take a more Tinder-like approach to matching hosts and guests. However, if their primary concern is increasing profits, they may be more likely to take a Big Brother-like approach that prioritizes using private data to drive bookings and maximize revenue.

It’s important to note that any use of private data by a company must comply with relevant privacy laws and regulations, and should be done with the explicit consent of users. Airbnb would need to be transparent about how they are using the data in the Host Passport, and give users control over how their information is shared and used. If done ethically and responsibly, using AI to match hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport could potentially enhance the overall Airbnb experience and make it easier for users to find the right match for their needs and preferences.

Conclusion:

With the introduction of Airbnb Rooms, Airbnb aims to attract a younger demographic of travelers with limited budgets and a desire for authentic experiences. By offering a dedicated category of private room rentals, Airbnb can provide affordable options to budget-conscious travelers while also promoting the sharing economy. The Host Passport feature further enhances the Airbnb experience by allowing guests to get to know their hosts better before booking a stay, fostering trust and connection between hosts and guests.

While the use of AI to match hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport could potentially enhance the overall Airbnb experience, the approach taken by Airbnb will depend on their values and priorities as a company. If done ethically and responsibly, using AI to match hosts and guests based on the data in the Host Passport could improve the overall quality of the platform and make it easier for users to find the right match for their needs and preferences. As Airbnb continues to evolve and innovate, it will be interesting to see how they continue to leverage technology and data to enhance the travel experience for their users.

ntinue to leverage technology and data to enhance the travel experience for their users.

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