As a longtime user of the accommodation booking site Airbnb — both booking rooms and hosting guests — I was worried about its proposed redesign. Since 2008, the well-designed site has been connecting travelers with lodgings that are cheaper than a hotel.
Today (June 27) the company announced a prominent new feature, "an array of remarkable spaces" recommended by celebs such as Ashton Kutcher. It sounded expensive and complicated.
The good news is the site remains easily navigable compared to other travel booking sites. A Wish List tab has been added to the landing page and the personal dashboard, but otherwise I'm able to do everything I'm used to doing.
Time to check out what these wish lists are all about:
Wish Lists is intended to give users an area to "scrapbook" their favorite listings. (More of the Pinterest -inspired scrapbook craze, perhaps?) While this may be a nice way to return to pretty pictures, hot listings are often booked months in advance.
Much as Airbnb wants to become a place where users pore lovingly over its pages, as a traveler I want to be able to search and secure reservations and move on. I want a nice place to stay, but generally I'm not traveling in order to spend a lot of time in my room.
Also, what is Ashton Kutcher doing recommending "Modern Getaways"? Are we to believe he really stayed in the $97-per-night place in Milan with the wonky couch? And if he has no knowledge of the properties he's recommending, why should anybody care? [ Got a Question? Ask a Local on Your iPhone ]
There is also a new "Friends" tab, where you can see what's on your Facebook buddies' Wish Lists. But if this feature only shows what we all wish for, it's merely a compilation of places we'd like to stay. That's not terribly helpful. After all, I haven't stayed at these places. They might not be ones I'd recommend.
It will be interesting to see how Wish Lists fares. As designed, it's mostly a way to highlight some of the unique properties on the site. Sadly, it's not providing any useful information.