Airbnb Finally Solved One Of The Biggest Hassles Of Traveling With Friends

Last Christmas, Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky asked a simple question on Twitter: If Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?

One of the top resounding answers was splitting payments among friends, and it's easy to see why.

People who have traveled as a group know the hassle of putting a large reservation on the group organizer's card. Then comes the task of chasing friends to pay their share in a timely manner.

It's a headache, and one that Airbnb finally solved with the introduction of split payments. Starting Tuesday, the ability to split the payment between friends will become available globally.

While Chesky's question predicted it would be a success, the company spent the last year building out how splitting a rental with friends would work. In February 2017, Airbnb acquired peer-to-peer payments startup  Tilt, which was like an early precursor to Venmo or Square Cash. A few months later, Airbnb started quietly testing how it could use Tilt's technology to help people traveling as a group. The early results were promising and more than 80,000 groups used it to make it easier to pay, the company said in a blog post.

Here's how it works: Whoever is booking the Airbnb will have the option for 72 hours to split the payment among friends. The reservation will show as booked on a host's calendar, but the group has three days to make sure friends pay their fair share.

If the group hasn't paid in full at the end of the deadline, the person who did the original booking will be encouraged to pay the remainder in full and be given a final 24 hours to make the payment. Otherwise, the reservation will be canceled.

By default, it will be set so friends split the reservation equally, but it can be adjusted by certain increments so a couple, for example, could pay double the price from one account as needed. Currently, the maximum number of people who can split the reservation is 16.

Airbnb says it's already seen that 30% of trips of that used split payments during the test brought new users to its platform. As Airbnb continues to add more luxury properties to its platform, the ability to split payment among guests may give it a small advantage compared to its other homesharing competitors, like Homeaway or VRBO.

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