By Doyinsola Oladipo
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Airbnb Inc will allow guests to break their payments into installments and see the nightly price inclusive of fees while browsing as the company expects a record 300 million guest arrivals in 2023.
The San Francisco-based company has been a big beneficiary of remote and hybrid work that prompted people to travel for longer durations. Now as the economic outlook worsens, Airbnb is looking to capture and keep the attention of the budget traveler.
“We know that inflation and the economy are on everyone’s mind and we want to make sure that people realize that Airbnb is an affordable way to travel,” Airbnb co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Blecharczyk told Reuters.
Lower-priced short-term rental properties in March have had the highest growth in demand, with 21% more nights stayed in a budget rental year-over-year, according to analytics firm AirDNA. Economy rental stays have increased 16%.
The company said it is introducing the Airbnb Rooms category to help travelers re-discover rooms as a cost effective option.
About 80% of the rooms in the category are less than $100 a night with the average rate of $67, according to the company.
“During the pandemic because of social distancing, fewer people were doing this kind of arrangement, but we think now going forward it is a great option,” Blecharczyk added.
Airbnb guests in the United States and Canada can now pay in four interest-free installments over six weeks due to the company’s partnership with Swedish firm Klarna Bank AB. For bookings over $500, U.S. guests can apply to pay monthly.
More countries will be added throughout the year, according to Airbnb.
The company is also addressing ongoing concerns from guests in the update. Customer service is slated to improve for guests on trips with a round-the-clock support team expected to answer 90% of calls in two minutes or less.
Guests will also have the option to see the nightly price inclusive of fees but before taxes while browsing while hosts will have the ability to compare their listing with their neighboring competition. An update the company says will normalize how hosts set their rates and ultimately bring the price down for guests.
(Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York, additional reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru, Editing by Angus MacSwan)