Tag: Airbnb

Airbnb’s split payments option is now available to all group travel

One of the most requested features on Airbnb has been the ability to split payments among members of a group traveling together. After all, it's never fun to run after your friends for payment, and according to Airbnb, 43 percent of American group travelers have lost $1,000 or more as a result. Now, after months of testing, the accommodation service is rolling out a group payment tool around the globe.

The feature works with up to sixteen travelers and allows the trip organizer to hold a reservation while only charging their portion to their card. Trip members will have 72 hours to log in and input their credit card information, automatically splitting the costs of travel. Note that one person can pay another's balance; for the reservation to go through, all shares must be paid for. If someone fails to pay up within the 72-hour window, the reservation will be cancelled and all shares refunded.

Airbnb is the first accommodation service to incorporate seamless split payments on a global level. The feature has already been tested on over 80,000 groups in almost 175 countries. It also has the potential to expand Airbnb bookings and users. After all, more accommodations are available in terms of budget when one traveler doesn't have to front the entire payment. Additionally, it draws new users onto the Airbnb platform as people invite their friends to pay individually in group reservations, which just adds to its incredible growth.

Via: The Verge

Source: Airbnb (1), Airbnb (2)

Airbnb is reportedly being used to launder money

Criminals have long been exploiting online marketplaces for money laundering purposes, and the latest service to reportedly fall prey to fraudsters is Airbnb. According to a Daily Beast report, Russian scammers are leveraging the service to launder dirty cash from stolen credit cards with the help of corrupt hosts. The fraudsters are recruiting for their Airbnb abuses on Russian-language crime forums, with posts seeking everything from collaborators to hacked accounts.

After creating or purchasing the Airbnb accounts, the scammers use them to request bookings from colluding hosts, who then send back a cut of the profits despite no one staying at the property, cybersecurity expert Rick Holland told Daily Beast. Legitimate hosts also help the criminals sidestep Airbnb's rules on government ID -- although the company clearly states it cannot be held responsible for the confirmation of any member's identification. The posts reportedly indicate that fraudsters tap hosts to funnel up to $3,000 at a time, as part of operations both inside Russia and the EU. Still, it's difficult to gauge how extensive or marginal the abuse of Airbnb is.

In its response, Airbnb pointed to its machine-learning algorithms as part of its protections against "suspicious activity." The company added: "we employ micro authorization friction and 3D-Secure to verify if a credit card is being used by its owner and assess the level of risk associated with a transaction."

Source: Daily Beast

Airbnb buys startup to help you find disability-friendly rentals

Airbnb knows its hosts haven't always been kind to people with disabilities, and it's taking some definitive steps to fix that weakness. The company just bought Accomable, a startup that helps you embark on disability-friendly travel. While Accomable is winding down over the months ahead, its accommodation listings will find their way into Airbnb's entries for over 60 countries. You'll know if a host really does have accommodations for disabled guests throughout the home, not just wheelchair access at the entry. Also, Airbnb is pursuing its own improvements to help you make more informed choices.

It's offering checklists that hosts can fill out to indicate their exact level of accommodation, such as whether entryways are wide enough to fit wheelchairs. In theory, it'll be easy to ensure that you have access to the kitchen or washroom without having to ask hosts. The feature is starting to appear on the web right now, and it should reach mobile apps within a few months.

It'll take a while before these additions are noticeable. This isn't the end of Airbnb's efforts, however, and the combination of the Accomable deal with the checklist feature is at least an acknowledgment that the existing strategy wasn't working. It already had a policy barring discrimination against disabled guests, but that clearly wasn't enough to prevent some hosts from rejecting guests who disclosed their conditions. In the near future, you might not have to take that risk -- you can make a beeline for the homes that are genuinely ready to welcome you in.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Airbnb

Airbnb taps San Francisco’s biggest landlord for short-term rentals

Airbnb is recruiting San Francisco's largest landlord to allow tenants to offer their apartments as short-term rentals. In return for Veritas Investments serving up five of its buildings, Airbnb will give it a cut of the nightly revenue (10 percent, according to the San Francisco Chronicle), as part of the incentives it launched a year ago.

The two make for strange bedfellows, considering the fraught relationship between landlords and the short-term rental service. Earlier this year, Airbnb was sued by a Denver-based real estate firm for "helping tenants breach their leases." Meanwhile, New York has even fined tenants for posting short-term listings, under the new regulations it passed last year (a law Airbnb tried to block, before settling with the state).

Veritas, which owns over 5,000 units in San Francisco, is initially piloting the program on roughly 100 apartments. To lend a helping hand, Airbnb is enlisting Pillow, a startup that will help manage the short-term listings. But, removing housing from the rental market (and serving it up to tourists) is bound to be contentious in a city where rent prices are already among the highest in the US.

Then again, Airbnb's relationship with its hometown has been far from smooth. It took a turn for the better in May, however, when the company settled a lawsuit with the city over a rule that levied fines on hosts that don't register their units. Under the settlement, Airbnb will create a new registration system for hosts on its website in early 2018.

Tech companies file briefs supporting challenges to DACA withdrawal

Major tech companies are still voicing their support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects undocumented immigrants that came to the US when they were children. President Trump decided to end DACA protections in September and while tech companies spoke out in support of DACA prior to and following that decision, many have now filed a document backing those that are challenging the president's move in court.

Over 100 companies have filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in five ongoing cases aiming to reinstate the DACA program. Those plaintiffs include the University of California, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara county, as well as California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. The brief, which was signed by a number of tech companies, including Adobe Systems, Airbnb, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, Google, IBM, Lyft, Microsoft, SpaceX, Twitter and Uber, argues that the decision to end DACA protections was not based on a valid legal argument and is therefore "arbitrary and capricious." It also states that its rescission will have a major impact on the US economy. In the brief, the signees state, " DACA's rescission will inflict serious harm on US companies, all workers, and the American economy as a whole. Indeed, our national GDP will lose $460.3 billion, and Social Security and Medicare tax contributions will be reduced by $24.6 billion, over the next decade."

In addition to this amicus brief, Apple also reportedly filed its own in support of a motion put forward by California's attorney general seeking to block the withdrawal of DACA.

Just before Trump announced his decision, hundreds of executives signed an open letter in support of DACA, many of which then went on to share their disappointment after it was dissolved. Last month, reports surfaced that companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM were planning to lobby Congress to pass legislation that would continue to protect DACA beneficiaries.

Whether these efforts will have any impact will remain to be seen, but it appears these companies aren't ready to back down just yet. In the amicus brief, they stated, "DACA is a concrete and essential example of America fulfilling its centuries-old promise to welcome people from around the world seeking a better and a freer life. And no group is more deserving of that welcome than the Dreamers."


Source: Amicus Brief

Airbnb’s Select vetted homes may arrive next year

Back in June, reports came out that Airbnb has conjured up a project called "Select" that will offer vetted homes and rooms to the more discerning customers. According to a new report by The Information, Airbnb is planning a limited launch of that initiative sometime in 2018. It's unclear how many Select listings will be available during the limited launch, but the company is reportedly aiming to offer hundreds of thousands of Select homes in the future.

To help home owners ensure their properties pass muster, the Select program will apparently give them the option to ask Airbnb for funds in advance. The company expects them to use the cash to fund the home improvements they need to make, such as remodeling their bathrooms or repainting their houses. Airbnb still seems to be working out the details, though, because according to hosts the publication talked to, the company couldn't give them exact info on how the program will benefit them. In addition, dealing with inspectors and photographers in their homes has been eating up a lot of their time. One of them also voiced out being worried that the program will raise customers' expectations, leading them to leave mediocre reviews for homes they would've given five stars otherwise.

Select is an entirely different entity from Airbnb's initiative that focuses on luxury homes. When the news of the program first went around, a source told Engadget that the home rental company came up with the idea to better serve older guests who want more space and to stay in unique neighborhoods. Select will put a sharper focus on quality in order to cater to those customers.

Source: The Information

Airbnb plans five more complexes after its first Florida apartments

A new report from Financial Times confirms last month's rumors that Airbnb will launch a new apartment complex in Florida in partnership with a real estate firm. The rental company plans to pitch the location as prime opportunity for seasonal tenants who will be able to rent their units out for up to 180 days a year.

Real estate developer Newgard Development Group will construct the 300-unit building located in Kissimmee, Florida and open it next year. Located just south of Orlando, the complex will be poised to lure tourists and workers away from hotels, which is the ultimate goal of the venture. Newgard plans to build five more such Airbnb-partnered apartment complexes amounting to 2,000 total units in the next two years, its chief executive told Financial Times.

The Kissimmee location will have keyless doors and long-term storage for tenants to more easily rent out their units while away. Hosts will use a proprietary app to organize renters and coordinate cleaning services, which are mandatory. There will also be a "master host" on-site to, presumably, supervise the location.

As for revenue, Newburg will take a 25 percent cut from each rental, Airbnb will take its usual 3 percent and the tenant will get the rest. It'll be interesting to see if Airbnb exports this model to other real estate partners in the future as it continues to try prying more business away from hotels.

Source: Financial Times

Airbnb and WeWork team up to find desks for business travelers

There's one thing a hotel can offer that most Airbnbs can't: easy access to a conference room and various office amenities. In an effort to make up for that and to entice young professionals to book a rental rather than a hotel room, Airbnb has teamed up with WeWork. According to Bloomberg, corporate customers will be able to save a slot at the nearest WeWork office workspace when they rent a room on Airbnb's website. As the publication said, the partners will likely have a tough time luring wealthy execs away from their hotels. But the new feature sounds useful for those who simply want access to a desk, printer, WiFi and other common office facilities while traveling.

Airbnb has been trying to win professionals all year by launching new features that cater to their needs. Back in April, when it announced that over 250,000 companies around the world have signed up to use it for work, it launched the "Business Travel Ready" search tool that shows only properties suited for business travelers. In July, Airbnb listings also started popping up on Concur for companies that book rooms through the business travel portal.

Airbnb and WeWork confirmed their partnership to Bloomberg but declined to discuss details, including the new feature's launch date. The publication said, however, that the new tool will initially be available in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, London and Sydney before making its way to other locations.

Source: Bloomberg

Airbnb reportedly wants to offer apartment rentals in Florida

For a service that began as a simple house-sharing service, Airbnb has definitely expanded to include some interesting, if off-target, promotional initiatives. The company recently stepped into the restaurant reservation space, and has even offered up Sarah Jessica Parker as a shoe shopping partner. According to a new report at The Information, Airbnb is looking to take a step even further with company-branded apartments in Florida.

According to The Information, Airbnb is working with a real estate developer in southern Florida, Newgard Development Group, to design a new apartment building as a proof of concept near Orlando in Kissimmee, right next to all those theme parks. Airbnb won't own or even contribute to the development costs, said one person familiar with the matter. Another source said that this is only one of many experiments that Airbnb is using to expand its brand to more places.

The idea, say The Information 's sources, is to pull in younger renters who work part-time in Orlando, but want to make money by subletting rooms or apartments (via Airbnb) when they aren't in town. Airbnb, the developer and the main apartment tenants would split the revenue earned from such an arrangement. It sounds like this could bring Airbnb one step closer to becoming like a hotel chain, notes The Information. Marriott already works with developers in this way, not owning the buildings or land, but by providing a standard of hospitality and the use of its brand name.

We've reached out to Airbnb for comment on this matter and will update when we hear back.

Source: The Information

Airbnb offers Sarah Jessica Parker as your shoe shopping partner

Tomorrow morning, Sex and the City fans will have the opportunity to grab one of four Airbnb Experiences that will take them on a shopping trip with Sarah Jessica Parker. Airbnb is expanding its offerings of Experiences in New York City, which will include Parker's listing among a number of others. The proceeds of the Airbnb booking will go to the New York City Ballet. Parker, a NYC Ballet board member, told the Associated Press that the ballet is "one of the great cultural experiences anybody can have."

Other celebrity-hosted charity experiences include a golfing trip with Michael Strahan, which will raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and a Brooklyn wander with Ansel Elgort that will benefit Americares' hurricane relief efforts. Parker's listing, which includes a trip to Bloomingdale's, a pair of shoes from her line, frozen yogurt with her at Forty Carrots and tickets to the ballet, is priced at $400.

Airbnb launched Experiences last year as part of its efforts to expand beyond just renting rooms. At the time, Experiences were only available in 12 cities, but the company has been expanding what it offers and where. The service is now available in 40 cities and this week will see New York's small selection widened to 150 Experiences, reports the Associated Press.

If you're interested, you can try your hand at snagging one of Parker's four listings here on Tuesday. The Experience itself will take place on October 6th.

Via: Business Insider