Airbnb has just made it easier for groups around the world to split the cost of a short-term rental unit on its platform, adding a feature where members of a group trip can all pay their shares separately when booking one shared unit to stay in, using Airbnb’s website or apps.

Here’s how the new feature works: when booking a rental property, a group trip organizer can elect to split the payment (on properties where hosts have that option enabled). The organizer’s card is charged for only their share of the total payment. Then, the reservation goes into “awaiting payment” state. This means it will show up as booked on the host’s calendar for the next 72 hours, giving the organizer time to contact his fellow renters and get them to log into Airbnb to pay their share.

Aribnb split payment option

Aribnb’s split payment option. Credit: Airbnb

This fixes a problem of group trip organizers “fronting” the initial costs of a rental, only to have their fellow renters delay repayment or fail to pay them back at all.

Case in point: Airbnb said in a news release that of those who have traveled with a group, two-fifths (38 percent) have not gotten paid back what they were owed by other group members, and that a split payment option was one of its most requested features from companies.

Roughly four out of five American travelers (79 percent) have been on multiple group trips in the last five years, according to a recent online survey commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by DKC Analytics. Airbnb also says it’s seen a rise in group travel on its platform.

Nashville agent Mike Zeller with Village Real Estate Services, who has a portfolio of investment properties that he rents out on Airbnb and who helps advise other property investors do the same, welcomed the new feature.

“I think splitting payments is a terrific innovation,” Zeller said. “One of the key things to any customer experience is the ease of use. This will reduce the headache for the traveler who’s organizing the trip.”

Airbnb says it’s already tested the new split payments with 80,000 groups in 175 countries.

Enabling easier group payments is definitely to the company’s advantage: 30 percent of group reservations lead to new users joining Airbnb.

Email Gill South

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