Airbnb Introduces Group Booking Features and AI Customer Service

Usually, Airbnb has a big summer update with lots of new stuff for guests and a bit for hosts. But this time, they mostly focus on a few group booking updates. They’re also adding a new category called “Icons,” which are cool experiences hosted by famous folks from music, movies, TV, and sports.

One thing that’s changing for everyone is group booking features. Now, you can make shared wishlists and send trip invites to your group with all the property details.

And there’s a new feature where you can invite friends or family to a wishlist from your phone contacts or a link. Then, everyone in the group can add properties, leave notes, or vote on which one to book.

Airbnb whishlist

Once the main member books the property, they must invite others to join the trip by sending them a postcard. This postcard includes important details like the address, check-in instructions, and Wi-Fi passwords.

Airbnb also added a new messaging tab where all travelers can chat with the host and respond to messages. Hosts can use AI suggestions to answer questions, like sending guests the property’s checkout guide.

Airbnb messages

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, highlighted that the company introduced group features because over 80% of trips booked through their platform involve multiple individuals. Additionally, there’s considerable interaction among group members regarding decision-making.

In addition to the group features, Airbnb is introducing a new earnings dashboard tailored for hosts, offering enhanced insights. They’re also introducing a special category called “Icons,” which includes extraordinary properties such as the X-Men mansion, the Ferrari museum, Prince’s Purple Rain House, and exclusive living room sessions with Doja Cat. These unique experiences will be available for a limited time, and interested users must apply for access. Airbnb aims to accommodate 4,000 individuals across 11 distinct experiences.

AI Uses on Airbnb

In November, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky discussed with TechCrunch that the company is experimenting with generative AI-driven review summaries. Although Airbnb hasn’t officially announced this initiative, Blecharczyk informed TechCrunch that the platform intends to implement AI in various aspects, including customer support.

“We are increasingly using AI to streamline our customer support to make sure that customers are routed to the right agents or to have tickets automatically resolved with AI-generated responses,” said Blecharczyk.

The co-founder of Airbnb mentioned that AI-powered responses are only suitable for specific situations, and the company has been experimenting with them in restricted settings.

“I think there is a lot of potential for applying AI to the business. We think a lot about how AI is going to change the experience at the consumer layer over time,” Blecharczyk said without sharing specifics of the company’s roadmap.

He added, “We have a lot of reviews, and we sit on top of a lot of customer service data. So we are thinking about how we can use AI to succinctly give a better picture of a listing and its information.”

In November 2023, Airbnb acquired GamePlanner, a secretive startup founded by Adam Cheyer, one of the co-founders of Siri. Chesky had previously stated that this acquisition was a component of Airbnb’s strategy to develop the “ultimate concierge” within their travel platform. Using AI-powered responses to address customer inquiries is likely the initial phase towards achieving this goal.

Read More: Anthropic Introduces New iPhone App And Premium Plan For Businesses