Airbnb has been working hard over the last few years to make it faster and easier for guests to find a place to stay. After all, the easier the process, the more likely it is that a guest will actually book a room through the platform.
Today, it’s taking that initiative to its inevitable conclusion by introducing last-minute bookings and weekend getaways for guests searching for places to stay in San Francisco and Los Angeles. With an update to its mobile app, Airbnb is now surfacing listings that can be booked instantly in those two markets.
The company decided to roll out the new feature after seeing surging demand from users who were seeking out lodgings for the same night or one night in advance. But since not all Airbnb hosts were able to accommodate such requests, guests would sometimes request stays at multiple locations while waiting to hear back from different hosts.
That was a bad experience both for guests, who could become anxious about actually being able to find a place, as well as hosts, who might be fielding requests from guests that ended up staying somewhere else.
Airbnb had already enabled an instant booking feature, which gave hosts the ability to automatically accept guest requests without having to message with them beforehand. It also provided a number of different filters or parameters, such as number of days notice needed, number of reviews a guest had, and others before instant booking would be enabled.
Since the beginning of the year, Airbnb has grown the number of listings that could be booked instantly from 35,000 to more than 90,000 today. But the company hadn’t done a very good job of highlighting those listings that were available for instant booking — until now.
Users looking for a place in San Francisco or Los Angeles will start seeing a prompt that reads “Need a place for tonight or tomorrow?” Once they click through, they’ll find available private rooms and full apartments that can be booked either for the same day or the next day.
In addition to same-day instant bookings, Airbnb is trying to foster a little spontaneity from users in San Francisco by introducing the concept of “Weekend Getaways.” With that new feature, it will suggest listings in nearby getaway destinations like Tahoe or Napa Valley to provide some inspiration for places that users can go for just a few days.
In both cases, the company is looking to fend off competition from instant booking apps like HotelTonight, which has expanded into a number of new markets over the past two years. You can expect that, after a trial run in its initial markets, Airbnb will look to make last-minute booking and weekend getaways a core part of its app in many other cities to come.
Founded in 2007, Airbnb has raised nearly $800 million in venture funding, which includes a $450 million round of financing that just closed last month.