Airbnb goes mobile with new apps

November 12, 2013: 3:11 PM ET

New products enable the startup's 350,000 hosts to do without the desktop.

Airbnb's redesign mobile apps for iOS and Android. Source: Airbnb

Airbnb's redesign mobile apps for iOS and Android. Source: Airbnb

FORTUNE -- Airbnb wants its hosts to get out of the house.

At a press event Tuesday at the company's San Francisco headquarters, co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nate Blechzarczyk introduced redesigned Apple (AAPL) iOS and Google (GOOG) Android apps with an emphasis on improving the mobile experience for the company's 350,000 hosts.

"Hosts said they don't have all the tools that they need, and second, that it's actually not that easy to use." explained Chesky, also the company's CEO. He pointed to feedback from a host who complained the previous app was so complicated they had to wait until they were home to access the website to complete a transaction.

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Airbnb's new apps aim to fix that with a streamlined mobile experience for hosts called Host Home that allows them to accept bookings, manage guests, and request professional photography of their places. Another feature in the app, Host Groups, enables hosts to create online neighborhood-based groups for them to communicate.

For many tech companies, mobile has increasingly become a priority, and Airbnb is no exception. Chesky said he believes that the majority of Airbnb's users, who have booked over 10 million nights since the company was founded five years ago, will book more rooms via mobile vs. desktop. Indeed, Chesky is so bullish on mobile he told Fortune he believes the majority of Airbnb's business will be conducted on the app by the end of 2014.

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Chesky also hinted that next year will see a raft of new products and features depending on user feedback, including potentially the ability to book synchronized cleaning sessions and to alert hosts when their guests check in. Airbnb also announced new initiatives like a rewards program for hosts to receive the travel credits for their own Airbnb vacations and GetMobile, a series of tutorials to get mobile users up to speed on the new apps.

All these new features and releases are intended to deepen the company's relationships with its room-renting providers. Emphasized Chesky: "We are a hospitality company."

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JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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