Airbnb home search overhaul ‘to alleviate over-tourism’

Airbnb claims to be introducing the biggest change to the holiday home finding service in a decade with a new search method.

The firm aims to redistribute tourism to lesser known destinations based around what it describes as Airbnb Categories.

The 56 Airbnb Categories include more than four million unique homes around the world.

The company said: “Airbnb Categories organise homes by what makes them unique, which helps people discover places they wouldn’t have otherwise found.

“This can help alleviate over-tourism by redistributing travel to new locations beyond the same popular destinations.”

The new way of searching makes use of machine learning technology.

The 56 categories organise homes based on their style, location, or proximity to a travel activity.

“When you search for a destination, your search results are also organised by categories that are relevant to that destination. As you view different categories, the map intelligently zooms to show you where the homes are located,” the company said.

“To create Airbnb Categories, we evaluate millions of homes using machine learning to analyse titles, written descriptions, photo captions, structured data from hosts and reviews from guests.

“Members of Airbnb’s curation team review listings and hand-pick featured photos — so if a listing is in the ‘Amazing Pools Category’, the first photo shows a pool. Then, each category goes through a final check to help ensure consistency and photo quality.”

Split Stays are also being added to enable longer trips to include two homes.

“When searching a specific destination, Split Stays automatically appear in your search results,” Airbnb said. “They also appear within 14 categories – including camping, national parks, skiing and surfing – to inspire you to stay in two destinations as part of a longer trip.”

A booking protection guarantee called AirCover “represents the biggest upgrade to Airbnb customer service in a decade,” according to the company.

Co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky said: “The way people travel has changed forever. That’s why we’re introducing the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade.

“First, people are more flexible about where they live and work, so we’ve designed a new way to search with Airbnb Categories.

“Second, people are taking longer trips, so we created Split Stays to give you more options by splitting your trip between two homes.

“And third, we’re introducing AirCover for guests, giving you the confidence to book knowing that Airbnb’s got your back.”

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