Airbnb introduces group booking features and utilizes AI for customer service

Airbnb’s summer release typically includes numerous updates for guests and a few for hosts. This time, the focus is on introducing updates for group booking and a new category called “Icons,” featuring experiences hosted by notable figures in music, film, TV, and sports.

The group booking features allow users to create shared wishlists and send trip invitations to group members with property details. Users can invite friends or family to a wishlist through phone contacts or a link, enabling group members to add properties, leave notes, and vote on them for booking decisions.

Image Credits: Airbnb

After booking, the primary member can send trip invitations to group members via postcard, including address, check-in instructions, and Wi-Fi passwords.

A new message tab allows travelers to chat with hosts and respond to messages, with AI-powered suggestions for hosts to efficiently handle inquiries.

Image Credits: Airbnb

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, stated that group features were developed as most trips on the platform involve multiple people, leading to collaborative decision-making among group members.

In addition to group features, Airbnb is unveiling a new earnings dashboard for hosts and the “Icons” experience category featuring unique properties and exclusive experiences for a limited time, such as the X-Men mansion and living room sessions with Doja Cat. Users can apply to participate in these experiences, with a limited number of spots available.

Using AI on Airbnb

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky previously mentioned the company's experimentation with generative AI-powered review summaries. While details on this initiative are not public, Blecharczyk revealed plans to integrate AI across various areas, including customer support.

AI is being leveraged to enhance customer support by routing inquiries to the right agents or providing automated responses generated by AI. Blecharczyk emphasized that AI responses are currently used in specific scenarios and are being tested in limited production.

The company sees the potential of AI in transforming the consumer experience and is exploring ways to utilize AI for listing information and customer service data to enhance user interactions.

In a strategic move, Airbnb acquired GamePlanner, a startup founded by Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer, to pave the way for an AI-driven ultimate concierge service, starting with AI-powered customer responses to queries.