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As travelers are starting to feel more comfortable doing trips following lockdowns and travel disruptions due to the novel coronavirus, many are looking to vacation rental sites like Airbnb for accommodations.
In fact, experts have actually noted that Airbnbs may be a safer option than hotels since you can opt to book an entire private home. Airbnb also recently rolled out a new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative so guests can easily identify Airbnb listings that adhere to the new vigorous standards.
But when it comes to homes listed on Airbnb, the offerings can certainly be a mixed bag. On the same platform where you can rent a renovated lighthouse or Tyler Perry's former mansion, you'll also find small, drab rooms and even the occasional scam.
Similarly, the hosts can range from Superhosts who go above and beyond to uninvolved third parties. Of course, savvy travelers know to be vigilant when it comes to checking ratings and reading past guest reviews before booking and to check other home booking sites too, but even the most seasoned Airbnb users can find themselves checking into a run-down home when they were hoping for a sophisticated stay.
Plus, not everyone has time to devote hours to sifting through hundreds of listings and reading multiple reviews to compare every potential stay. For travelers who want the guarantee of hotel-quality design and hospitality, Airbnb Plus is the answer.
Airbnb Plus was officially launched by Airbnb in 2018 to highlight the bonafide creme de la creme of Airbnb listings, homes renowned for designer aesthetics, magazine-worthy style, and thoughtful amenities provided by hosts for a next-level stay.
It's important to keep in mind that there's no guarantee of safety for travel right now. But for users who are looking to book an Airbnb and are interested in vetted homes, there's an option to filter Airbnb listings to only show Plus stays. This can significantly cut down the time it takes to find your next top-notch accommodations. Here's how it works.
What is Airbnb Plus?
Airbnb Plus is a special collection of homes that have been verified in-person by a third-party inspector.
According to Airbnb, it includes a "selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail." Hosts must meet the following requirements before they are even eligible to apply:
- The listing must be either an entire place or a private room with a private bathroom.
- The host must have maintained an average rating of at least 4.8 over the past year.
- The host must not have canceled any reservations, with the exception of extenuating circumstances.
- The host must have accepted 95% of booking requests over the past year.
Once the host meets these requirements, a third-party inspector will visit the home to vet the listing on style, design, and hospitality (more on this below). If the home is accepted, a professional photographer is then provided to take new photos to showcase the property and ensure that all listing photos are high quality in terms of look and resolution.
Once the home is officially part of Airbnb Plus, hosts must also agree to not list it on any other booking platform, meaning that all Plus listings are exclusive to Airbnb.
As an added bonus, when you book a Plus home, you'll also have access to the Airbnb Plus support team, which is focused on serving Plus customers with quicker response times.
What is the difference between Airbnb and Airbnb Plus?
The main difference between a regular Airbnb and Airbnb Plus is the fact the homes are verified in-person and held to a higher standard. However, eligibility to apply for Plus certification is not available in all destinations.
Airbnb currently lists Plus homes across all six continents, but these are usually in major cities like Los Angeles or island countries like the Dominican Republic. The program is constantly expanding but still lacks some major world cities. For example, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the only destinations where there are Plus listings in all of South America. And while you can find a Plus home on the Hawaiian island Maui, you won't find any on Oahu.
A verified Plus rating doesn't necessarily mean that the home is better than non-Plus listings, especially because the distinction does not cover every destination on the platform. However, it can offer stronger peace of mind that someone has verified the listing in-person and that what you will be getting will at least match the quality of the photos.
It's also worth noting that Airbnb Plus is also a different service than Airbnb Luxe, which exclusively lists private villas and includes a personal trip planner and airport pick-up in the price.
What is the difference between Airbnb Plus and a Superhost?
Superhost status is earned by maintaining at least a 4.8 average rating with zero cancellations over the past year. You don't have to operate an Airbnb Plus listing to be a Superhost.
Additionally, hosts must have completed 10 stays or three reservations totaling at least 100 nights. They must also maintain a 90 percent response rate. Superhost status will automatically be earned if the host meets all these criteria by the end of any given quarter.
On the other hand, Airbnb Plus status must be applied for and verified in person. However, Plus hosts are required to sustain their Superhost level of hospitality, in addition to having a listing that is well designed, equipped, and maintained.
How are Airbnb Plus listings vetted?
Homes are vetted based on three standards: style, comfort, and hospitality.
By being eligible for Airbnb Plus, the host already meets the hospitality standards, but an in-person visit is required to confirm that the home also meets style and comfort standards.
The interior design of the home is expected to be cohesive, clutter-free, and reflect style and personality like this Los Angeles home, which has a clean design scheme punctuated by eye-catching houseplants and funky furniture pieces.
The home must also be unique in some way and the listing will score points for personal touches like this Roman loft, for example, which really pulls off its vintage nautical theme.
Airbnb Plus homes are required to be fully-equipped with cooking essentials, filtered or bottled water, and an iron and hairdryer, among other desirable amenities. The property must also be well maintained, which means that everything is clean and works, from the coffee maker to all the locks on the bedroom doors.
Lastly, self-check-in, via a lockbox or door code, is mandatory to ensure that all guests have a smooth check-in experience.
Is Airbnb Plus more expensive?
The biggest misconception about Airbnb Plus is that you'll pay a lot more for it, but that's not necessarily the case. Although some hosts may raise their nightly rates after being accepted into the program, there are still plenty of affordable listings like this private room just outside London that starts at $47 per night.
If you're searching by location though, you might find that Plus homes do cost a little bit more than competing listings in the same neighborhood. For most hosts who enroll in Airbnb Plus, the incentive is to stand out from the crowd and attract more bookings with a Plus badge.
However, an Airbnb Plus stay does not mean premium or luxury services, so hosts can't hike up the prices too much if they want to stay competitive.
At the end of the day, you'll have to decide if it's worth it to pay a little bit more for the peace of mind that your Airbnb will be stylish, sufficiently-equipped, and under the care of a highly-rated host.