Travel app, Airbnb, has been quietly testing a cost splitting feature for a few months, and has now opened up the feature for all users. The way it works is simple enough on the surface, but there are a few extra features to help make things as smooth as possible. Users can request payment by sending participating parties a link, or putting their email address on a list. Hosts can also check out what balance is left to pay, as well as who among the invitees has or has not paid up. Users can also pay a small portion of the total trip cost upfront in exchange for locking in a certain Airbnb until everybody else pays up, and then set out, though a caveat here is that the Airbnb owner keeps the user's portion of the cost split if the other guests decide to bail. Tests thus far have involved over 80,000 different groups adventuring across 175 countries and paying with 44 different currencies, which means that the feature should be completely ready for primetime at this point.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked users about a potential new feature for 2017 on Twitter near the end of last year, and cost splitting from within the app came up as one of the most popular and feasible options. Part of the research that led Airbnb to decide on putting the feature together was a survey about group travel that yielded some daunting revelations. One particularly shocking example is that 18% of travelers who have gone out in groups more than 10 times in the past five years reported losing out on at least $10,000 in total from fronting expenses and having group members never pay them back. Airbnb included the comics and Tweets below to better explain the logic behind the new feature, along with one composite image of desktop and mobile interfaces for cost sharing.
The travel industry may have slumped a bit in the aughts thanks to prohibitively high costs against a backdrop of a recession in the United States, one of the larger worldwide travel markets, but thanks to the likes of Uber and Airbnb making things cheaper and more convenient for travelers, there's been a resurgence of sorts lately. Airbnb is largely thought of as a vastly favorable option to hostels and hotels, despite some controversy. This move will make vacations with Airbnb even more accessible.