Airbnb launches payment splitting for group trips

In February of this year, Airbnb acquired social payments startup Tilt. Today, the fruits of that acquisition are being passed along to Airbnb users.

Starting now, Airbnb users have the ability to split payments with their fellow travelers. Before now, one traveler was forced to front the cost of the trip and hope that their friends/colleagues/family were responsible enough to pay them back in a timely fashion.

Payment splitting will work with up to 16 travelers, offering plenty of flexibility for large groups who travel together.

Airbnb says that 30 percent of reservations booked with the payments splitting tool (which has been in testing), led to one or more new users on Airbnb. So, while this is a useful feature for users, it’s also a growth tool for Airbnb.

On Christmas Day in 2016, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked users what features they want most on Airbnb. According to the company, payment splitting was one of the top requests in response to the tweet.

As part of the announcement, Airbnb ran a survey with the help of Pollfish and DKC Analytics speaking to 2000 adults in the U.S. between November 15 and November 18. From that sample, 43 percent of them have lost $1,000 or more in repayments from group trips. Moreover, 18 percent say they’ve lost $10,000 or more from not getting repaid after group trips, and 29 percent have fought with a friend over group trip repayment.

Here’s how it works:

When a trip organizer puts in a request to book a listing, the organizer’s portion of the payment is charged on their credit card, bringing up a menu to share the booking with other members of the travel group. They then have 72 hours to log in to Airbnb and pay their portion.

Within the blog post, Airbnb mentions that this workflow applies to “listings that qualify for split payments” but didn’t clarify what that means or what percentage of Airbnb listings qualify. We’ve reached out and will update the post when we hear back.

Update: Airbnb got back to us. There are a few qualifications for split payment listings: the reservation must start at least 10 days from the time of booking and the stay must be for less than 27 days. In other words, it has nothing to do with the listing itself, but rather the length of the stay and the notice of the reservation.