Airbnb users in San Francisco and Los Angeles will find it easier to book at a moment’s notice, thanks to an update for both iPhone and Android. The company announced Tuesday morning that users in those areas will gain access to areas available for booking that evening — or available for the weekend nearby.
Available within the app’s Discover tab, users will be able to see listings nearby that are available to book that evening, as well as hand-selected venues available for spur-of-the-moment weekend trips. According to Joe Zadeh, Airbnb’s director of product, the two new sections are natural extensions of the company’s recently deployed Instant Book feature, which allows users to book rooms and apartments without prior approval from hosts.
“In general, we’re trying to make it easier to host, and Instant Book helps with that,” Zadeh said via phone. “On the guest side, we want to make an Airbnb experience available anytime, anywhere.”
Theses features, with the speed of Instant Book, allow Airbnb to take on other last-minute booking sites, like Hotel Tonight, while doubling down on the company’s commitment to becoming a better matchmaker for hosts and guests. Zadeh said that hosts interested in offering up their properties for last-minute and weekend bookings can say so in their preferences. Users who book through these programs use Airbnb’s Verified ID (which surfaces both the first and last names of users) to add an extra layer of security for hosts, and hosts can choose to only book users who have stayed with them before.
While also last-minute, Weekend Getaways have an added algorithm that shows users properties that are in nearby vacation spots — say Napa for an SF user or San Diego for an LA user. These properties are also available for Instant Book, and are hand-picked for their location as well as their features.
These features are definitely a clear step in Airbnb’s goal of making the service frictionless, but also smart. In taking the reigns to better match hosts with guests, the service actually makes it much easier for all involved to participate. Zadeh said the service will likely roll out slowly to new markets as demand grows.