Going to Coachella is fabulous in so many ways: two weekends of great music, visiting the desert in springtime, spying on your friends and their festival fashions. One of the things that is not so great, however, is finding the perfect place to stay. Once you have found a place to stay, there is the pesky little problem of getting everyone in your party to pay up so that one person is not stuck with a giant bill that threatens to ruin friendships if it is not resolved.
Fortunately, Airbnb has recently launched a service that allows the price of a reservation to be split multiple ways, allowing for up to 16 people to pay their share of the bill in advance. With multiple people allowed to make payments, the problem of one person fronting the entire cost of the reservation is eliminated. Whether a group of friends is attending Coachella and renting a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs, or sharing a luxury cabin during a ski weekend in Zermatt, the bill-splitting provision is now available globally for all Airbnb users.
The process for making an Airbnb reservation and splitting the bill is remarkably smooth. One person makes the initial booking, and he or she has the option of splitting the payment amongst a group for 72 hours. The reservation is recorded as booked on a host’s calendar, but users have up to three days to submit payment for all parties involved in the transaction. The default setting is for the payment amounts to be divided up equally amongst the group members, but this can be adjusted if necessary. For example, if a couple is attending and want to pay together, or if one friend is gifting another friend accommodation, the service can easily be modified to account for these situations.
At the end of three days, the person who arranged the initial booking will be encouraged to pay the remainder of the balance if the group has not paid in full. This person will have 24 hours to make the final payment. If the entire balance is not paid within the final 24 hours, the reservation will be canceled.
The launch of the new split billing option came about as a direct result of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asking Airbnb users what service they would most like to see available in 2017. When customers overwhelming replied that they would like to be able to split payments, Airbnb began looking for a way to make that a reality. In February 2017, they acquired peer-to-peer payments startup Tilt, and they were eventually able to use Tilt’s technology to make it easier for people traveling in a group to pay their bill. During the testing phase of the Tilt technology, Airbnb reported that 30% of the trips that used split payment options brought new users to their platform.
The new service is destined to be successful for both Airbnb and its users, by making traveling easier and more enjoyable for everyone.