Thursday, February 22, 2024

Airbnb to shut down its Shutters Plus program in November

Airbnb will discontinue its Airbnb Plus program, a tier of lodging that offers high-end amenities, on November 6.

A release posted on the Airbnb website said: “The Airbnb Plus program will end on November 6, 2023. We will soon announce new upgrades to help your listing stand out to guests. Existing guest reservations will not be affected by the program ending.”

Airbnb Plus was unveiled in early 2018 and enabled properties to be part of a higher tier based on comfort, quality and amenities. A month after its launch, the company saw 20,000 hosts applied to have their listings included in the Plus classification, while boutique hotels were also keen to get involved.

Plus was initially established to create hotel-like standards for homes, featuring annual inspections for key items and thresholds for design quality and accessibility. However, the program suffered from a number of key issues, from over-investment on singular ideas to prohibitive limitations on hosts and practical concerns with regards to implementation, which hit the scalability of the project. Airbnb had intended to have at least 75,000 listings on Airbnb Plus during its launch year but by January 2020, there were only 26,000 active listings, according to short-term rental data provider AirDNA.

“We’re also developing new tools for hosts to help them showcase their properties and make their listings easily discoverable to potential guests, and we look forward to sharing more in our 2023 winter release,” the company added in the statement.

Airbnb’s next release is slated for the first week of November and will build on its release in May when it announced a big focus on its individual rooms inventory, which makes up about a million listings. Among the 50 updates, changes were also made to checkout instructions and pricing transparency following feedback from guests.

The company is also likely to give a further update on generative artificial intelligence developments, said co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky during the company’s second quarter earnings call.

He added that for Airbnb the technology will create efficiency in the short term – such as by automating and improving customer service functions – and growth in the long term, in the form of a “whole new interface” with personalization that will make the Airbnb app like an “AI concierge.”

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