When Brian Chesky asked last December what Airbnb should be working on, one of the most popular requests the company’s chief executive received was the option to let groups of guests more easily share the cost of their stay. Today, powered by the company’s acquisition of Tilt, a split payment feature is now available and rolling out worldwide.
According to Airbnb, an estimated 38 percent of guests reported that they didn’t receive all the money owed to them from group trips. It’s something many of us are probably used to — booking accommodations for a friend or family getaway by putting the upfront cost on a credit card, only to find that at the end of the trip, at least one person hasn’t paid their share. Or perhaps it’s extremely complicated to figure out how much someone owes for their stay. Either way, Airbnb’s newest feature promises to eliminate the problem moving forward.
Group travel is a big opportunity for Airbnb, with at least 15.5 million groups using the service last year. Using the split payment feature, you can now send your fellow guests a link where they can provide payment details, make a payment for one or more friends, or add an email address that will direct Airbnb to send someone a notification asking for the money.
This feature will be available in most markets starting today.
James Beshara, Airbnb’s director of group travel, told VentureBeat that split payments are “one of our most-requested features in recent years, and in our initial testing we’ve already had more than 80,000 groups successfully split payments. Starting today, the feature will be live globally and across more than 40 major currencies.” Beshara is the former CEO of Tilt, which Airbnb purchased earlier this year for a reported $50 million. This is the first time Airbnb has officially confirmed the acquisition.
At the time, Tilt was a crowdfunding platform that let users fundraise and pool money online, akin to GoFundMe and others. When asked what specifically about Tilt motivated Airbnb to pursue split payments, Beshara responded: “We’ve been seeing travelers request social and group travel functionalities from Airbnb for quite some time, and combining the expertise of Airbnb and Tilt greatly accelerated our ability to begin solving these problems for our community. Splitting payments — when you have 5, 10, or 15 people paying at different times, using different currencies, and needing the financial side of things to function flawlessly (since guests would lose their reservation if there were any hiccups) — is a significant step forward for social travel, especially when you consider the large cost of accommodations for a group trip.”
According to Airbnb, some of the top destinations where people are traveling with split payments include Paris; New York City; London; Buenos Aires; Los Angeles; Sydney; Melbourne; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; and Boston.
The addition of split payments is another milestone for Airbnb as the company continues to check off features that hosts and guests have asked for. It also gives Airbnb additional tools to target demographics that it may not have optimized before, such as business travelers, groups, and travelers with disabilities.