Airbnb Makes Big Changes to Search Functions, Guest Protections

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Airbnb just made some big changes, and it might make your vacations safer and more interesting. 

The updates, which CEO Brian Chesky described as "the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade," may be a welcome addition for travelers during what's predicted to be an extremely busy summer travel season. You'll be able to more easily search for rentals with unique features, split a vacation between two rentals, and enjoy more guest protections. 

The most noticeable change involves something everyone who books an Airbnb uses: the search function. The company has added 56 new categories that will help people find interesting and unusual rentals, plus it will be easier to find rentals near attractions like national parks.

Some of the categories are related to features of the home, including whether it's a beach house, treehouse, off-grid, or ski-in, ski-out property. You can search for rentals with an amazing pool, a grand piano, or even famous architecture. 

Plus, if you sometimes have trouble deciding between two rentals — or if you're taking extended vacations because you're working remotely — Airbnb has made it easier to book them both. These "split stays" will automatically appear in search results for some destinations and categories. If you decide to book a split stay, an animated line between the two rentals will appear on the search results map to help you visualize exactly what you're booking and where. Users will book both rentals in a split stay at one time.

Finally, Airbnb has expanded free AirCover travel protection service, once only available to hosts, to guests as well. If a host cancels your stay within 30 days of check-in, the company will find you a similar or better rental, or refund your money. That guarantee also applies if you can't check in to your rental, and the host can't resolve the issue. If the rental isn't what was advertised, you'll have three days to report it to Airbnb, and will be placed in another rental or refunded.

The company has also set up a 24-hour safety hotline for customers in case something goes wrong during their stay. It will be available in 16 languages.

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