Woman handing keys to a traveler guest.

Airbnb Tackles Rising Prices with Airbnb Room Program

With inflation rearing its ugly head and a potential recession upon us, Airbnb is striving to keep travel affordable with their Airbnb Room offering. How are they doing this? By adding new search features to the properties they already have.

That’s right: Airbnb hasn’t decided to lower their fees or cap the often outrageous cleaning fees from hosts.

But frequent Airbnb users who are feeling inflation’s punch will likely appreciate the ability to narrow down their searches for a room that matches their needs.

There’s a tradeoff, though.

Airbnb Room means that guests rent a room in a home or apartment where the owners or other Airbnb guests live. Sharing space with strangers isn’t an ideal scenario for many, and customers wanting a private rental experience are still left with rising accommodation costs to pay.

Airbnb Room Features

Potential Airbnb customers will soon have access to the short-term rental app’s new features. They include:

  • Comparison of the cost of private rooms versus private homes and apartments
  • Ability to search for a private en suite bathroom
  • A warning if the room doesn’t have an internal or external lock

As a solo female traveler who has stayed at over 70 Airbnbs across the globe, the lock feature is a welcome relief. I’m currently writing this article from my shared Airbnb apartment and had the unwelcome surprise of learning that my room doesn’t have an external lock, let alone an internal one.

Other examples of the 50+ new Airbnb features that guests will notice regardless of whether they book shared or private accommodation include:

  • Total price display
  • Transparent checkout instructions
  • Improved maps

Pressure From Upset Locals

Airbnb has received its fair share of negative press in recent years. Locals are furious about how these short-term rentals geared towards tourists and business people drive up the cost of rent.

Furthermore, rental apartment and home availability have plummeted in many cities, augmenting an already grave problem.

People have also accused Airbnb of instigating gentrification.

Gentrification happens when people from the middle and upper classes move into poorer areas. The result is skyrocketing housing and rent prices. Locals often have to close their businesses because of the demand for upscale cafes and boutique shops.

Eventually, life in their district becomes so unaffordable that many locals are forced to move.

The Issue With Airbnb Room

Although Airbnb Room sounds nice on the surface, it feels like a marketing ploy.

Yes, Airbnb Room makes it easier for budget travelers who are already planning on renting a room in a shared apartment or house to find a room that meets their needs. And no doubt hosts will be more inclined to add internal and external locks to their doors when they see a warning sign beside their room listing.

However, I’m doubtful that Airbnb Room will entice a large enough group of guests to change their minds about renting a private home over a shared space. That’s a big ask, and some travelers might forfeit a trip instead of staying in conditions without privacy.

Is Airbnb Hurting?

According to a March 2023 U.S. Census Bureau survey, over 91% of Americans have noticed the cost of goods and services increasing in the last two months. Stories of rising rent costs come in droves.

NerdWallet performed a study showing that 23% of Americans have chosen not to go on a summer vacation in 2023 due to high prices.

As of March 2023, airline prices had risen by 17.7% compared to last year.

These are scary numbers for a company like Airbnb that relies on people traveling to make a profit. Time will tell if Airbnb makes it to the other side intact.

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