In recent years, Airbnb has been working to expand its business beyond accommodations, by becoming a more robust travel companion with features like guidebooks, suggested experiences, and full-service hospitality for high-end travelers with its still invite-only Airbnb Beyond, for example. Now the company is preparing even more trip-planning features, including support for adding co-travelers to trips and other collaboration features for group travel.
Airbnb offered a sneak peek at these otherwise unannounced features at a recent tech talk given at company headquarters.
“Trip planning is not necessarily complete unless you can share your trip with someone. So now we’re building features that let you add co-travelers – so you can add and share ideas, so you can add comments, so you can collaborate,” said Laura Xu, an Android engineer on Airbnb’s Trip platform, during the presentation. “You can really build out your trip.”
From the screenshots displayed, the co-travelers feature will allow Airbnb users to send invites to people who are joining the trip. This allows everyone to save ideas to a master list, including homes that match their criteria, experiences, food and drink, sights and more. Each item will indicate who added it to the trip. There’s also a way for others to comment on the items, which allows for group conversations about the place or activity.
The company didn’t say how soon the features were arriving.
The focus of this portion of the presentation was to give a look at how a company of Airbnb’s size and scale can change its platform and codebase to support more than just home listings. Over the past couple of years, the company has added support for things like restaurants, concerts, coworking spaces, luxury rentals, and even high-end vacations like castle rentals and even private islands, Xu said.
Now the company is creating a mobile platform that can support its change in focus, as well.
Also offered was a deeper look at of the newer features on mobile, where travelers can add anything to their trip itinerary – like places they want to visit. The feature is integrated with Google Places to pull in photos, directions, open hours, and other details.
Meanwhile, the ‘Organize’ experience under Trips in the Airbnb app is being updated to become a way to plan the entire trip. The company showed off a new trip planner – which hasn’t yet launched – which will include a day-by-day view to see when everything is booked, an embeddable map that shows where everything is booked, and a suggestions feature, so you’re never short on ideas of what to do while in town.
In addition, Airbnb presented a new concept called Trip Platform, which was described as something that powers the end-to-end trip experience on Airbnb, and enables the launch of new tools. It includes easy-to-reuse UI (user interface) components that will make it easier to create and add new features, while maintaining a consistent look and feel across the app.
The tech talk, overall, was focused on what goes into building Airbnb’s iOS and Android apps – something that’s important to the company because over 50% of its incoming traffic is now mobile, and because travelers aren’t generally using a desktop or laptop computer.
Airbnb also hinted towards its longer-term, mobile-first vision – one that has expanded beyond “where I am going to stay” to now include “what am I going to do?” but hasn’t yet addressed the question, “where am I going to go?” It could help with that latter query by introducing more discovery features, but these plans weren’t discussed during the talk.
We’ve reached out to Airbnb to get more information on these additions, but the company has not offered an official response.