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Airbnb launches app to improve experience of its 350,000 hosts

The peer-to-peer home rental company introduces a new app designed around the experiences of its hosts.

Attendees at the new Airbnb headquarters listen as CEO Brian Chesky announces a new host-centric product.
Donna Tam/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- A small fraction of Airbnb's 350,000 rental hosts paid a visit to the company's new headquarters on Tuesday for the launch of a new host-centric app for Android and iOS.

With 1,000 new hosts joining each day, Airbnb representatives said they want to make it clear that hosts are a major part of the company. The new hospitality-centric app is Host Home, a host dashboard that allows users to respond to messages, accept bookings, update calendars, and requests photos. The app also offers advice on how to prepare for guests and where to join host communities.

During a presentation that streamed online to hosts worldwide, CEO Brian Chesky spoke at length about the company's history and thanked hosts for renting out their properties through Airbnb's site.

"Our products and our services are only as good as much as we talk to you," he said, offering an open invitation to all hosts to visit Airbnb headquarters.

He reassured hosts that the company is working with local governments to ensure they can continue to rent their properties without worrying about retaliation from officials.

"There are laws for people and there are laws for business, but you are a new category, a third category -- people as business. As hosts, you are micro-entrepreneurs and there are no laws written for micro-entrepreneurs," Chesky said, using one of his preferred terms for hosts.

He also emphasized hospitality, which Airbnb vowed to standardize across the site when it hired hotelier Chip Conley. Conley and other executives took turns talking about different initiatives, including group forums for hosts where they can share tips and host stories.

Chesky said Airbnb will launch new features for Host Home next year and solicit hosts for suggestions. Because hosts increasingly are booking rentals through their smartphones, Airbnb has redesigned how bookings look on its Android and iOS apps.