At the end of February, short-term rental giant Airbnb announced that guests would now be able to search for stays using a “Flexible Dates” search feature.

The new search filter option will be a good thing for both guests and hosts. Guests can now browse stays without having to commit to specified travel dates, and hosts can potentially gain exposure from a greater pool of guest eyes on their listings.

The new feature is somewhat similar to some search options on existing flight search engines like Kayak and others. “Instead of selecting exact dates at the beginning of a search, guests can search for new options like a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation or even a month-long or months-long stay,” Airbnb’s announcement reads. “This will allow them to browse more options while staying flexible on the exact dates of their trip to make their trip fit with their schedules.”

With more companies having adopted increased work-from-home flexibility during the pandemic, short-term stay travelers are less likely to need to book stays for specific dates in advance like in the past. That will likely make these types of searches more attractive to guests so that they can wait and book their ideal stay when it’s available, instead of one that happens to be available during a set of rigid travel dates.

Investors who own Airbnb properties might want to think more carefully about some factors that could weigh more heavily for guests now with the new search feature in place, an article by Million Acres recently pointed out.

The things that can really make an Airbnb listing stand out from others will be crucial for hosts to focus in catering to guests who don’t have specific travel dates in mind. Beautiful listing photos that show off a stay’s chic decor and cleanliness are probably the first thing a potential guest will notice. After that, stellar amenities like snacks, a coffee maker and other appliances help make a stay more attractive.

In addition, guests may be more keen on shopping around for the best priced stay if they don’t need to be anywhere at a specific time. So, being aware of prices for other comparable stays and staying competitive with them is key for investors.

The pandemic and remote work also gave rise to the popularity of long-term stays. Hosts who want to stay competitive as traveler preferences transform should therefore also consider making their properties available and suitable for longer stays.

“It’s no surprise COVID-19 continues to change the way we travel, and in addition to redesigning our platform last year to make nearby and longer-term stays easier to find and book, our new Flexible Dates feature aligns with a broader shift in how people will travel in the future,” Airbnb’s announcement states. “The traditional travel industry was built around fixed destinations with fixed dates in mind, but that model no longer meets the needs of today’s travelers.”

For best results, hosts who want to continue to provide value to guests in a COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic world should look at their properties from a new lens. Creating attractive, clean, comfortable and flexible stays can be extremely valuable for guests in today’s uncertain world.

Email Lillian Dickerson

coronavirus | rentals
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