Fun + Unique Airbnb News, February ’207 min read

Want Airbnb news? Look no further. I’ve done the legwork of reading countless headlines and articles to bring you the most relevant and interesting. I unabashedly ignore news related to temporary annoyances like overly restrictive city regulations, supposed housing crises and topics-of-the-day like hidden cameras. This post covers fun, interesting, and unique news from February 2020.

GetMyBoat! Airbnb for boats!; So long positional bias!; The Mashvisor Professional Plan; Airbnb hosts scams exposed by vice; Airbnb adding up to its court mileage Click To Tweet

GetMyBoat like Airbnb… but for boats!

At least that is how this new startup defines itself. In a time when sharing economy is on the rise, we see more and more platforms coming up with brilliant ideas such as this.

The concept was born one day when Sascha Mornell and Rafael Collado were out in the water and noticed hundreds of boats sitting unused at the marina. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In what has become the classic “Eureka!” moment of entrepreneurs, they saw the opportunity to connect boat owners with clients looking to rent and went for it.

But it is not all innovation and risk-taking in the business, as Val Streif, GetMyBoat’s marketing manager, shared when asked what makes this enterprise so successful:


“The biggest piece of advice we could give any business would be to always be looking at the data. Measure what is happening with each strategy you try.  If something isn’t working, don’t continue to put time and effort into it. Move onto something else.”


By now, GetMyBoat has become the world’s largest marketplace for boat rentals around the world with over 130,000 boats and water experiences in 184 countries. I believe part of their success is due to the simplicity of the rental process: you download the app, submit your information, pick a boat, pay, and put on your captain hat! Ahoy!


Airbnb’s journey to eliminate Positional Bias from its search

Do you remember the olden days when we had to go to the library and find a book on a library card? We needed the title, author, classification, year, etc. It could take a while. Now, imagine having to find the right Airbnb for you in a megacity with over 17,940 active short-term rentals. That is a colossal endeavor.

Airbnb engineers have been working tirelessly to ensure finding your right rental is as easy as finding me on Social Media (@optimizemybnb by the way).

Originally there were only a dozen factors taken into consideration (I may oversimplify things a little for the sake of not giving you a headache): city, capacity, dates, and price.

Many years have passed, and the complexity of the issue continues to evolve. There are hundreds of factors included in “the equation” today, so many, in fact, that artificial intelligence has been trained to do the job. Its latest lesson comprised of how to select the right listing for the right guest.

First, it begins by creating “two towers” of data, the first representing the guest’s ideal listing based on his query and features. The second with the listing’s features.

The examples consisted of both booked and unbooked listings from previous queries so that the system could learn what defined whether the listing was reserved or not.

A problem with this was the position the listings would come up. Let’s be honest, how many of you wander into the third google search page when looking for the weather?  The way the system learns is through predictions based on past results. And this, is where significant progress was made: by implementing a “Position Dropout,” randomly dropping listings from the results during training, the system would not a) group certain listings together all the time, and b) assign the same positions to the listings over and over again. By doing so, the system wouldn’t depend on the historic position of the listing as a defining factor for its relevance in your search.

As a result, there was a gain of +0.7% in bookings, along with +1.8% in revenue.


“Eliminating positional bias allowed the model to get closer to the true preference of guests, and strike a more optimal balance between price, quality, and location.”


It might sound easy, but it took years of blood, tears, and sweat for these geniuses to get there.


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Airbnb Scam problem exposed by Vice

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam Run by Fake Hosts on ...

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It is a fact that where there is a business, there is a chance of someone trying to create a scam around it. Unfortunately, that has already happened in Airbnb, but surprisingly, by hosts.

As a guest of over 1,000 nights, I find this to be absurd. The worst thing that has happened to me was when I booked a fake listing, Airbnb refunded me entirely, but still, it is an unpleasant experience to have when traveling. Under this scheme, “hosts” enlist false addresses and use pictures from other listings or straight out of Shutterstock.

Another experience I had was with a host who charged me 30% extra off the platform. I didn’t have to pay and could have reported her to Airbnb, but I just decided to pay the extra amount and learn from the experience.


As a result of this, Airbnb has committed to exercise a stricter control when approving new listings, one of the latest actions established by Airbnb is videoconferencing with the host to confirm the listing exists and is as described. Ultimately, Airbnb is hugely on the side of guests, so, I find this report quick bizarre.

Airbnb continues adding up to its court mileage


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Airbnb -just like Uber, Lyft, and WeWork- has received its share of lawsuits. Whether governments, other companies, or users are suing them, there seems to be something about these Silicon Valley unicorns that don’t sit well with the competitors and organizations already long established in the markets they come to disrupt.

One of the main reasons for this is that being platforms that connect providers with clients, they abide by the rules and laws established for tech-companies, not necessarily in the areas they provide services in. In other words, Airbnb didn’t classify as a real estate or hospitality company, which has upset many of their well-established rivals in the hotel industry, who demand the platform to “face the same regulatory squeeze and lobby hard for it.”

One of the first regulations that were placed on the short-term rental platform was on the number of properties it could have available in densely populated areas and cities, such as NYC and San Francisco. As long-term tenants started to worry that would affect their rent and homeowners feared how this would change their neighborhood.

In my opinion, this is part of the job of a disruptive company. Whether it is by trailblazing new fields or repaving old roads, they face the challenge of bringing their communities, no matter how big or small, up to speed, which may cause friction and ruffle feathers along the way.

This was Airbnb news in February!

I'm Danny, the Airbnb expert

About Danny Rusteen:

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (1,000 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 33 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.

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