Airbnb has released a report analysing the impact of its flexible search options in Europe, including ‘Categories’ and ‘I’m Flexible’, which the booking platform introduced over the past two years. The report shows the options help divert bookings away from Europe’s most saturated tourist hotspots and peak travel dates in support of more sustainable travel trends.
Airbnb launched its flexible search tools ‘Categories’ (May 2022), ‘I’m Flexible’ (May 2021) and ‘I’m (Even More) Flexible’ (November 2021) to create a new way to search for travel and provide a tech-driven solution to mass tourism by helping guests discover homes and communities beyond saturated tourist hotspots and at different times of the year. Around 1 in 20 stays on Airbnb are currently booked using flexible search features.
We want Airbnb to be part of the solution to challenges associated with the growth of tourism and to support sustainable travel trends.Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer
The new report ‘How Airbnb Supports Sustainable Travel in Europe’ includes the first analysis of the impacts of these flexible search tools on dispersing travel. It shows a shift in bookings from several top destinations to less popular destinations, both across destination cities and across neighbourhood destinations within cities. This trend is continuing despite a general resumption of pre-pandemic travel patterns.
“We are encouraged by the early insights into the impacts of flexible search, which are spreading guests and the benefits of tourism beyond busy tourist hotspots”, said Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. “Airbnb will continue to invest in the growth of flexible search to support the responsible and sustainable growth of travel, while making it easier for anyone, anywhere to become a Host on Airbnb.”
The report shows guests using flexible search tools book less often in the 20 most popular destinations on Airbnb in Europe (-17.5%) and more often in less-visited communities ranked outside Airbnb’s top 400 destinations (+35.5%), when compared to guests booking via traditional search on Airbnb.
Flexible search is also helping to redirect guests approximately 5 miles farther away from their initial intended location within cities, compared to traditional searchers on Airbnb. Neighbourhood-level analyses of flexible search users for the cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Prague and Rome show a consistent shift from booking in the most popular neighbourhoods in favour of bookings on the outskirts of the cities or in other areas altogether.
Guests booking via Airbnb’s flexible search tool, that provides an option to include a location without dates, are also more likely to book outside the top 10% most popular dates (-7.3%) and are more likely to book nights on weekdays (+5.7%).
Moreover, in 2019, the top 10 most visited cities on Airbnb in the EU, including Paris, Barcelona and Rome, accounted for 20% of all trips in Europe, whereas they account for just 14% of trips in 2022. The popularity of rural stays has also grown, increasing by 55% when comparing the first three quarters of 2019 to the same period in 2022.
Flexible search is Airbnb’s latest tech-driven solution to help address challenges associated with the growth of tourism in Europe and across the world, but the platform has implemented other tools as well.
1. Sharing data: The City Portal is Airbnb’s custom-built platform for governments to access data, information and enforcement tools on Airbnb. The first-of-its-kind tool has been adopted by more than 300 governments globally, including 174 in Europe.
2. Collecting tax: Airbnb has partnered with governments and tax authorities to automate and simplify the payment of tourist taxes in Europe and across the world. New data released on 3 November shows that Airbnb’s tax collaborations have seen more than $6 billion of tourist tax revenues collected and remitted globally, including $573 million (€511 million) in the EU, as of 31 August 2022.
3. Good neighbours: Last month, Airbnb announced that it will provide free noise sensors to Hosts in more than 60 countries that integrate with the platform’s messaging tool and alert Hosts instantly if noise exceeds a certain level. A recent pilot in Prague enabled Hosts and guests to solve 100 percent of noise alerts between them within 20 minutes of detection.