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Airbnb’s new feature is for the 54% of Americans who waste vacation time

By Rosie Spinks

For budget-conscious travelers, Airbnb has always offered several upsides. Not only are many listings significantly cheaper than a hotel room, some also include the benefit of kitchens, washing machines, and wifi in the cost. Offering at-home amenities for a low price is boon for those who want to travel on the cheap.

However, there has also historically been a downside: The requirement to pay up-front. Airbnb has formerly required guests to fork up 100% of the booking cost at the time of making a reservation. This is is more stringent than many other online travel operators, such as Booking.com, which often take payment either at the venue, or right before the reservation date.

But on its quest to become the largest travel company in the world—flights, experiences, accommodation, and all—Airbnb seems to be on a mission to widen the payment options it offers its users. After rolling out a split payment feature in late November, the company has added another option: The ability to pay less upfront. In honor of National Plan for Vacation Day, which is January 30 in the US, the new feature is a perfect excuse to book a July vacation—in late January.

This is not just a help for guests—who can now opt to make a 50% deposit at booking (for listings of $250 and more) and pay the rest closer to check in—but hosts as well. As Airbnb pointed out, “hosts won’t lose out on bookings from cash flow-sensitive guests who prefer not to pay the entire amount up front,” and the feature also “encourages bookings further in advance.”

There are numbers to suggest the feature is needed, too. According to Project: Time Off—which is funded by the travel industry and studies American workplace attitudes towards vacation time—54% of American workers left vacation days unused in 2016, totaling 662 million days. While the January 30th holiday may be a publicity stunt, the fact remains that America is the only advanced nation that does not require employers to offer paid time off, which affects cultural attitudes towards taking time off. What’s more is that, as Harvard Business Review pointed out, ”research has shown that vacations planned more than a month in advance are restorative, whereas the stress of vacations booked at the last minute can negate the positive impacts of the time off.”

If that doesn’t convince you, simply making it through the drudgery of January is an entirely valid reason to book a future trip.