Airbnb thinks remote work will change travel forever

If employees don't have to go back to the office, Airbnb bets they'll want to see the world.

Airbnb thinks remote work will change travel forever

As ever, the challenge for Airbnb is to balance the needs of hosts and guests.

Photo: Airbnb

As millions of people reemerge from a year of lockdown and the travel industry rebounds, Airbnb announced some big changes to the way its platform works. The most important is flexibility: Instead of searching for particular places at particular times in particular locales, Airbnb users can now turn to Airbnb for ideas. The company is also improving its host tools, making it easier for new hosts to get started on Airbnb and to manage an influx of new travelers.

In general, Airbnb doesn't seem to expect a return to pre-pandemic life once everyone is vaccinated and life returns to normal. Instead it seems to expect some key trends to continue, like remote work and long-term stays. Those things have helped keep Airbnb afloat during the pandemic, and have become a core part of the platform going forward.

As more companies let employees work from anywhere, some travelers might switch from taking two vacations a year to just working from somewhere new for a few months. Or they might become digital nomads, working and living from whatever yurt they could find on Airbnb that week. The company has recently been promoting the idea of " trying out a new city " before moving there, for instance, now that lots of people are free to leave the immediate vicinity of their employers.

Nearly a quarter of Airbnb stays were longer than 28 days in the first three months of 2021, the company found in a recent survey , and travel is happening to a much wider range of places. "The lines between travel, living and working are blurring," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in the company's announcement, and Airbnb hopes to make it easier for people to move around the world in whatever way they want.

Airbnb is still largely used like a search engine, but increasingly wants to be more like Pinterest, offering ideas and inspiration for people looking for adventure. That also gives Airbnb an opportunity to show people places and homes they might not otherwise look for, which Chesky said on the company's most recent earnings call was a point of emphasis: "There's a lot of other opportunities for us, I think, to point demand to where we have available supply, which will allow us to steadily increase occupancy," he said.

As ever, the challenge for Airbnb is to balance the needs of hosts and guests. Guests want variability and flexibility, free cancellations and fun off-the-beaten-path places to stay. Hosts want consistent income, predictable demand and helpful communication when something goes wrong. Airbnb announced on Monday that it offers support coverage in new languages, has simplified its cancellation policies, and created a support team just for Superhosts.

The pandemic seems to have broadened Airbnb's sense of its place in the world. It once operated like an alternative to stodgy hotels, but is now embracing the idea that it can be an alternative to permanent housing as well. What WeWork wants to do for offices — unbundle them, and simplify the process of getting and using them — Airbnb wants to do for homes. It's not just out to get the Hyatts and Hiltons of the world anymore. It's coming for the one-year leases and the mortgage payments too.


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

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Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more .

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The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

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Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison ( @dgoodison ) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

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Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich ) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

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