Airbnb launches “Guest Favorites” feature

Airbnb will highlight rental listings that have received the highest guest ratings, information that the company’s CEO says will help provide hotel-like reliability when booking a home or room on the site.

The company will launch the “Guest Favorites” feature this week. About 2 million of the 7 million properties on the site will get the label.

It’s unclear how hosts who don’t earn the favorite badge will react: they could lose bookings or have to reduce prices to compete. CEO Brian Chesky said the favorites could do more than others.

Chesky acknowledges that the variety of properties on Airbnb creates uncertainty among renters. He said the unpredictability of listings is the main reason someone would choose a hotel over an Airbnb.

The executive explained that the favorites will have guest ratings with an average of at least 4.9 out of 5.0 and cancellation rates and customer service incidents of 1% or less. The company, however, makes no guarantees about guests’ favorite listings.

Airbnb is also encouraging hosts to create photo tours of their property, which Chesky said will use artificial intelligence to organize photos by room.

The company is also making changes behind the scenes that will include helping hosts adjust prices based on demand, right up until the day they are made.

Earlier this year, Airbnb began discouraging hosts from charging exorbitant cleaning fees, a top user complaint. A 2022 analysis of 1,000 listings by personal finance site NerdWallet pegged the average cleaning fee for a one-night stay at $75, about 25% of the total bill.

According to the company, around 260,000 listings have reduced the cleaning fee since then.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP