Featured Article

Airbnb boosts host protection, adds Wi-Fi speed verification

The rental company is responding to folks living, not just traveling, on its platform

Comment

Image Credits: Phillip Faraone / Stringer / Getty Images

Last night, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky took to Twitter to share what he’s seeing in the company’s data. The broad strokes version was that the pandemic-induced flexibility in our work lives has allowed more people to travel during the week, and even travel for months at a time, effectively living on Airbnb.

To respond to this behavior change, Airbnb is today releasing a broad variety of new features to the platform.

Let’s dig in.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges with the renewed interest in travel, and the desire to travel and live anywhere for longer periods of time, is that supply has to meet demand. Airbnb wants to make sure that there are enough hosts to handle changing customer demand preferences, so it’s investing in making their experience better. To offer hosts more protection, Airbnb is introducing AirCover.

AirCover is top-to-bottom coverage for the home and is now free to all hosts on the platform. It’s up to $1 million in damage protection and $1 million in liability coverage. This also includes income loss protection, pet damage protection and deep cleaning protection.

The coverage product offers a 14-day filing window and promises faster reimbursements to hosts who file a claim, with an even faster track for Superhosts.

Airbnb’s Host Protection plan, which has been around for a long time now, has always offered up to $1 million in both damage protection and liability coverage, but there were plenty of gaps in that coverage. Damage caused by pets, for example, was not included in the coverage.

Pet damage coverage will indeed be a big one for hosts and guests alike. The pandemic led many folks to get themselves a furry friend, and now those same folks want to travel. But hosts, for good reason, are not often keen on allowing pets into their properties, which is again creating a big gap between supply and demand.

Pet damage protection should naturally readjust that imbalance.

AirCover is actually a pretty huge deal in that it expands beyond Host Protection, which covered the structure of the home but not the property inside of it. AirCover covers most of the goods in the home, with several exclusions like fine art, currency, automobiles and other vehicles like boats and jets, weapons, security cameras and precious metals and/or jewelry. Even with these exclusions, it’s a huge step up from the original policy, which didn’t cover things like furniture damage or theft of items.

You can check out the full list of exclusions here.

For those interested in the nitty gritty, Airbnb’s AirCover is provided through a policy issued by Zurich Insurance plc in most locations. In some jurisdictions, where a locally issued policy is required by regulation, coverage may be provided by a Zurich Insurance plc partner company, according to Airbnb.

Image Credits: Airbnb

Alongside AirCover, Airbnb is also introducing a Translation Engine. The engine translates in more than 60 languages, and removes “click to translate” buttons by automatically translating listing descriptions and reviews to the user’s language of choice. Not only does the Translation Engine remove the need to click to translate, but it actually translates better, according to the company.

Image Credits: Airbnb

Accessibility Review and Verified Wifi are two new features aimed at accuracy. Listings often say they have met accessibility requirements or that they have super-fast Wi-Fi, but fall short of expectations.

With Accessibility Review, hosts submit pictures of their accessibility features and they are manually reviewed by a team of actual humans. Thus far, this team has reviewed and confirmed the accuracy of 100,000 accessibility features in 25,000 homes around the world.

Verified Wifi allows hosts to test their listing’s connection right from Airbnb itself and have the speeds verified, so guests coming to work, and not just play, in that space can rely on their connection.

These new features are a few of the biggest that Airbnb is announcing today, but the company is also doubling down on products that have been immensely popular.

“I’m Flexible,” for example, has been used more than 500 million times since it was released in February 2021. Flexible search allows guests to be flexible around the location they’d like to visit, the dates they’d like to travel, and even the type of residence they’d like to stay in.

Airbnb doubles down on flexible search, improves the host flow in preparation for summer 2021

Because people are so drawn to this flexible search concept, Airbnb is expanding the date range; you can use flexible search from six months to 12 months out. The company has also added four new categories of unique stays, including off the grid, ski-in/ski-out, luxe and offbeat homes.

In terms of fine-tuning the service, Airbnb has redesigned the My Trips tab to keep all the information you need in one place, including a countdown timer for your reservation, check-in details, a list of upcoming reservations and personalized Experiences suggestions.

I’m speaking with Chesky in a couple of hours and will chat with him about this news, as well as his long-term vision for the company based on the trends he’s seeing in the travel space. I’ll update this post with a link to the interview.

More TechCrunch

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

6 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?