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.
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.
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."
Buyers can use other FON routers anywhere, free of charge.
By Michal Lev-Ram, writer
FORTUNE -- The "sharing economy" seems to be working for cars and vacation rentals, so why not Wi-Fi?
FON, a Madrid-based company, is trying to cash in on the growing collaborative consumption trend by offering a new, $59 router that turns home Wi-Fi networks into community hotspots. Users open up their network to other FON members, and MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Oct 23, 2013 11:24 AM ET
Why RelayRides is buying Wheelz.
By Kurt Wagner, reporter
FORTUNE -- Peer-to-peer car-sharing service RelayRides announced on Tuesday the acquisition of competitor Wheelz, a San Francisco-based startup also connecting users with nearby rental cars. The deal's financial terms were not disclosed, but Wheelz's financial backers have agreed to carry over their investments to RelayRides. Wheelz has raised $15.7 million in funding to date, and investors include Zipcar, Social+Capital Partnership, and Fontinalis MOREMay 14, 2013 6:45 AM ET
Startup hopes new verified ID badges will attract more users.
FORTUNE -- Starting April 30, Airbnb will go to even greater lengths to insure you are who you say you are, online and in the real world. The apartment-sharing site will begin rolling out a verified identification program that matches digital identity -- via social networking sites -- with real-world proof -- a photo ID. Once members have been verified, Airbnb MOREJessi Hempel, writer - Apr 30, 2013 12:00 PM ET
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