Airbnb is adapting to the pandemic by changing how we search for stays

Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken things up for almost every industry there is—but this goes especially for the travel and hospitality industry. It’s why Airbnb has come up with a few ideas to shake things up themselves, including how to adapt to the times by offering flexible bookings.

“We are seeing three fundamental shifts in travel as people become less tethered and more flexible,” said Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb.

Airbnb introduced three new ways to search for stays on their platform. They include Flexible Dates, Flexible Matching and Flexible Destinations.

Flexible Dates

Airbnb has introduced something called Flexible Dates, which is a feature that makes it easier for you to find the best places to stay if aren’t really picky on when you go. Some countries have already opened themselves up for domestic tourism like in Australia, and those who are working remotely can even choose to stay at Airbnbs for a period of time.

There’s still a long way to go until people in Malaysia would be able to travel around domestically as borders have been closed due to the rising COVID-19 cases—and it’s also not a great idea to travel around now anyway. But eventually when we do get more space to cuti-cuti Malaysia, the feature can help you look for great places to stay as more and more people choose to “work-from-home”.

To pick flexible dates, press “Check-In” at Airbnb’s front page, then press “I’m Flexible”. From there, you can choose whether to stay for a weekend, a week, or a month. You can also pick out the month/months that you’d like to see options for.

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You can then choose how many guests would be stays, as well as a specific map area if you’d like. But you can also choose now to pick an area if you really aren’t picky.

Airbnb will then give you options for areas to stay in and the different homes that are available. You’d get to see the price for one night, the price for a whole weekend, and the dates of the weekend.

Flexible Destinations

Besides being flexible on the dates of your stay, you can start your choice based just on unique stays. Flexible Destinations will let you discover properties that you might not have thought to search for.

In Malaysia, the “Unique Stays” option that you can click on the front page will take you to a list of one-of-a-kind stays, and they’re spread all over the peninsula. You can also opt for “Outdoor Getaways” which will give you a list of unique outdoors-y stays if you’re into that.

Of course, something like outdoor forest lodges in Malaysia make a lot of sense if you’re looking for a getaway from the city—so you’re going to mostly see forest lodges and farm houses here. But if you’re in other countries, you’d find ryokans in Japan, and even castles in Spain.

Flexible Matching

According to Airbnb, they now offer Flexible Matching—which will offer you a wider selection of listings when you search for a place. For example, you would see a listing for a family villa in Selangor that costs RM320 per night, rather than the RM300 max setting in your search.

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But when I tried to do something like that myself, I was only given options below my max price setting. It might be a technical error, but I have contacted Airbnb about it and will update the article once they’ve responded.

Other new changes

Airbnb has also added several other additions to help you find the stay you want. You can now look out for stays that include a faster checkout process, arrival guide, and clearer cancellations.

They have also upgraded and simplified their onboarding process for new Hosts. You’ll be able to read more about it, as well as the other new changes I’ve previously mentioned on their 2021 upgrades page.

But since we’re going to be stuck at home for a while, you can still use Airbnb Experiences to “travel online”. I’ve tried learning how to make salsa from a chef in Mexico and it was one of my favourite things to do during the first MCO.

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Dzamira Dzafri