Amid clashes with regulators in New York and San Francisco, Airbnb is testing a last-minute booking tool in California.

With the new pilot feature, guests can book a listing a mere couple of hours before they want it. Not all hosts are included in the pilot, however. Airbnb product director Joe Zadeh tells us that only the most responsive hosts qualify. Similarly, hosts can restrict their listings so that only higher-rated guests qualify to book instantly.

Airbnb permitted instantly book-able listings on the site prior to this launch, but it never made such listings easy to find. The new, last-minute booking section takes Airbnb’s hotel-esque experience to a new level. According to Zadeh:

Most people have last-minute booking as whatever’s left over — we don’t want that experience. Everything we offer is very unique.

Zadeh tells VentureBeat that his hope is “to be able to provide an Airbnb experience without having to plan in advance. Some of the most popular queries in our app have been last-minute.”

Airbnb claims it now operates in 192 countries and 34,000 cities. While this rollout is small, it represents an important shift for the firm — a shift that may further encourage regulators to call out Airbnb hosts for allegedly operating as illegal hotels.


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