Airbnb’s newest features are a response to the work-from-anywhere trend

Pets allowed?
Pets allowed?
Image: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Millions of people who once figuratively clocked in at the same workplace every weekday could now blindfold themselves, throw a dart at a map, and go work from wherever it landed for a week, if they chose to.

Recognizing that, Airbnb is rolling out new features that will approximate that experience online. On May 24, the company announced upgrades to its search function that will allow customers to look for a place to stay without specifying exact dates or even destinations.

Yearning to labor from a rustic setting completely unlike your home office? You’ll be able to look for available log cabins anywhere in Montana, or anywhere in the world, for a week or a month, whatever suits you. Or, if your budget is modest, you can search for nearby tents or yurts for “any weekend” of the summer.

As of June 30, when these functions will go live, your flexible search results can also include homes with amenities or price points that are slightly outside the parameters of your filters—they may be a tad more expensive than your upper limit, or have all the perks you desire, except a fireplace, for example.

People are traveling for longer

Airbnb actually began testing a version of the flexible dates search in January, allowing people to expand their range by one, three, or seven days. In today’s announcement, Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, said that function has been used 100 million times since the beginning of the year.

Airbnb has also seen a growth in trips to low-density urban areas, suburbs, and small towns, from 26% in 2018, to 35%, this year, Chesky said. And in the first quarter of 2021, 25% of Airbnb trips were booked as long-term stays (longer than 28 days).

“People aren’t just traveling on Airbnb, they’re now living on Airbnb,” he said.

“People are getting vaccinated, travel restrictions are lifting,” he added, this time speaking directly to Airbnb hosts who have survived a turbulent year. “People want to connect, so travel is coming back. In fact, we believe this will be the biggest travel rebound in a century.”

As Quartz previously reported, Chesky also believes that in a post-pandemic world, “traveling and living are going to gradually blur together, because in a world where many people can work from home, they can work from any home.”

Airbnb is expanding again

Airbnb announced a slew of other upgrades and said it has doubled the number of customer service agents at the company, while expanding the number of languages in which they offer support for hosts.

Shortly after the pandemic began in 2020, the company laid off 1,900 people, citing a drastic drop-off in bookings. It still managed to go public in December.