Airbnb Launches New Private Rooms to Try to Win Travelers Over

The company knows that some customers haven't been pleased in recent years.

In recent years, Airbnb has faced a growing number of valid criticisms. What started out as a way to stay somewhere cheaply in a new destination has raised serious questions about issues like gentrification, personal safety, price transparency, affordability, and discrimination, to name a few examples. 

Just as social media and internet forums have taken notice of some unhappy Airbnb customers, so has the company itself. In an announcement shared on May 3, Airbnb announced that there will be many changes coming to the platform, based on customer feedback.

"Airbnb began as a way to stay in a room in someone else's home. This original idea of sharing a home offers two unique benefits. First, it's more affordable for guests. More than 80 percent of private rooms are under $100/night, with an average rate of $67/night," the statement reads. "Second, staying with a Host is a great way to meet someone new and experience the city like a local."

The vacation rental platform is introducing Airbnb Rooms, which is an "all-new" (but perhaps very old) take on the original function of Airbnb. Airbnb Rooms will include a Host Passport, which will tell you everything you need to know about your potential host before your stay, and a new Rooms search category which includes more that 1 million listings. The filters for this search category have also been updated, so you can specifically search out the Airbnb Rooms experience.

There will also be new privacy features, so you'll be able to determine essential information like whether your room will lock, you'll have your own bathroom, and other crucial details.

Airbnb Rooms is just one of nearly 50 new features launching today on the site. Airbnb claims it has improved "nearly every aspect of the Airbnb service—and we're doing it based on feedback from our community." That means every screen you encounter, every policy, and every customer service experience—all of it is slated to be changed and hopefully improved upon.

Courtesy of Airbnb

"Millions of people have given us feedback on how to improve Airbnb. We've listened," said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO, in the announcement. "Today, we're introducing the most extensive set of updates ever. Our design-driven approach means we're always making Airbnb better, and our over 50 new features and upgrades are just the beginning. We will never stop improving Airbnb."

While "Never Stop Improving" has been a Lowe's slogan since 2011, only time will tell if this most recent commitment will play out better for Airbnb customers. Some of the biggest changes include displaying the total price, with fees, before beginning the booking process. Transparent checkout instructions will be included on listings and be available to view before booking, and bookings with repeated low ratings for checkout instructions (like too many chores before leaving) will be removed from the site. Maps on the site will be improved, monthly stays will be made easier to book and more affordable, and instant rebooking credits will be automatically be offered if a host cancels a stay.

There will also be a 24/7 support team, which feels several years too late but welcomed nonetheless. The goal for the support team will be to answer 90% of calls in English in two minutes or less.

And for the girlies out there trip planning on a budget, US and Canada guests will now be able to put bookings on a payment plan through a partnership with Klarna.

These new improvements certainly don't address every concern customers have about Airbnb, but it will be interesting to see if the general consensus about the vacation booking platform shifts more positively in the coming busy summer travel months.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.