Winter is almost upon us and Airbnb has announced a new feature that could help folks avoid fumbling for keys while wearing a bunch of layers. Starting in the US and Canada later this year, Airbnb hosts who are in the invite-only Early Access program will be able to link compatible smart locks to their Airbnb account and automatically generate a unique code for each reservation. The code will be activated at a guest's check-in time and deactivated at checkout.
Guests will be able to see their smart lock code in the Airbnb app. At the outset, Airbnb will support some models from Schlage, August and Yale.
This could make some Airbnb pain points much easier to deal with. Hosts won't have to worry about bad actors sharing entry codes with other people after they check out, and guests should find it more straightforward to find and enter their code without having to search for their reservation email.
Airbnb is making a string of other changes as part of its winter update. You'll be able to access a collection of the 2 million most-loved homes on the platform. These Guest Favorites all have an average rating of above 4.9 with high marks for things like value, the check in process, cleanliness, listing accuracy, host communication and location. Hosts of Guest Favorites will all have strong track records of reliability and almost two-thirds of the listings are from Superhosts.
You'll soon start seeing a badge denoting a listing as a Guest Favorite on the listing page and in search results. There'll also be an option to filter results by Guest Favorites.
Elsewhere, you'll be able to sort reviews by recency or rating, while a new chart should make the distribution of reviews on the five-star scale easier to grok. When you leave a review, you'll be able to include more details that may be useful for context, such as where you're from, how long you stayed and whether you traveled with family, another group or pets. Airbnb is starting to roll out the reviews and Guest Favorites updates this week.
Since last year, Airbnb has been making its pricing more transparent. To that end, service fees will now be included in the prices that hosts set. According to Airbnb, that will give hosts a better idea of how much guests are paying overall. It should be easier for hosts to compare their prices to similar listings through the calendar too.
Hosts will have access to other new listing tools, such as an AI-powered photo tour. Airbnb says its AI engine can recognize photos and assign them to up to 19 rooms to help guests better understand the layouts of properties. Hosts will be able to edit the photo tour whenever they like and pinpoint amenities in each room.
Correction 11/8 4:15PM ET: A previous version of this story and its headline indicated that guests would be able to open smart locks from the Airbnb app, but that's not the case. We apologize for the error.