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Airbnb Finally Adds an Important Business Travel Feature

Last year, Airbnb rolled out its first official business travel features, but it forgot an important one: booking accommodations on behalf of others.

So almost a year after introducing a fully redesigned dashboard for its business customers, Airbnb is finally adding that capability, the company said on Wednesday during its annual engineering-focused event in San Franciscol

With the new feature, an executive assistant, co-worker, or travel manager can now book a room or home on behalf of another employee.

Today, 11% of booking for business travel on Airbnb are made by someone other than the traveler and more than 50,000 businesses use Airbnb for business travel. But “there’s been no way for the booker to designate someone else as the travelers,” said Mike Curtis, Airbnb’s vice president of engineering. With the new feature, Airbnb clearly displays to the host when a user is booking a room or home on behalf of a co-woker so there are no surprises when the travelers shows up.

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“Airbnb actually has its roots in business travel,” Curtis said, referring to Airbnb’s origin. Co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up with the idea when they needed extra money to pay their rent, and travelers needed extra rooms during a design conference in San Francisco (incidentally where new regulations just threw a wrench in Airbnb’s business model). A few slept on air mattresses in Chesky and Gebbia’s apartment.

Additionally, Airbnb is also introducing two new features geared toward groups of travelers. One is collaborative wish lists, an extension of its original wish list feature for saving and collecting interesting listings, enabling groups of Airbnb users to be able to share and discuss where they could potentially stay during their trip. As Curtis explained, it replaces the group emails he used to send when he would try to book a home for group trip.

Another new feature is the ability for hosts to leave reviews for each guest in a group. Until now, the host could only leave a review for the guest who made the booking, but now each person in the group can get an individual review. Moreover, these reviews will port over to each guest’s profile.