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Airbnb was founded in 2008, and has since grown into one of the biggest players in the global travel industry. It’s business model is unique, but simple: it’s an online marketplace that aims to connect travelers who are looking for accommodation with hosts around the world. The accommodation on Airbnb ranges from shared rooms, rooms in someone else’s house or apartment, to entire homes. What many don’t know about Airbnb is that they have utilized AI and machine learning in order to solve a problem that was plaguing them: successfully connecting travelers and hosts. So, let’s take a look at how Airbnb is using AI to your benefit. 

Personalized Search Rankings 

When Airbnb first started, search rankings were determined based on a small number of hard-coded variables like the dates of your trip, the duration of stay, and the price. As Airbnb grew, it gathered incredibly valuable data from its users that could be utilized as a way to predict listing preferences. In an interview with VentureBeat, Mike Curtis, the VP of Engineering at Airbnb stated, 

There’s a bunch of other signals that you’re giving us based on just which listings you click on. For example, what kind of setting is it in? What kind of decor is in the house? These are things Airbnb can use to feed into the model to come up with a better prediction of which listings to show you first.” 

This feature was officially launched in 2014, but it’s evolved over time and will continue to do so. In this way, AI is making Airbnb more useful and accessible to users all around the world. 

Price Optimization

Hosts consistently complained to Airbnb about how challenging it was to come up for appropriate nightly rates for their properties. To address this, the company’s engineering team developed a proprietary model that would help hosts predict their maximum revenue per night for their listings. This AI model used machine learning to help predict the likelihood of getting bookings at various different prices. The model is based on factors like hotel rates, seasonality, local events, as well as minimum/maximum prices and frequency of hosting (among other things). They then combined the data to figure out the appropriate price for any given listing. This is called “smart pricing”, and it’s just one of the ways that Airbnb is using AI to your benefit.  

Discovering and classifying in-app message intent 

The engineering team at Airbnb have also been developing an AI mechanism that will help the company identify and classify in-app message intent quickly. They can utilize it for: 

  • Predicting customer support issues 
  • Guiding customers through the cancellation, refund and payment processes by identifying the customer’s intent to do so early on. 
  • Improving the booking experience by identifying and reacting to guest concerns. 
  • Providing immediate smart response to customers – guests and hosts. 

What next?

How Airbnb is using AI to your benefit is a really fantastic example of a good application of machine learning by a huge business. Airbnb has quite a forward thinking business model, so it makes sense that they’re utilizing this exciting technology to enhance the experiences of their guests and hosts. Ultimately, AI is changing the game in every industry in the world – but not every company is keeping up.