Vacation Rentals

Airbnb's big makeover: more than just a "vagina" logo (sort of)

By Virginia K. Smith  | July 17, 2014 - 11:59AM

Airbnb was all over the news (or at least all over the Internet) yesterday, but not quite in the way they'd envisioned. After rolling out a huge, presumably very expensive and carefully planned website rebranding, all anyone could talk about was how much the new logo looks like a vagina. (Apparently, it also looks a little too much like the logo from another company called Automation Anywhere, but you can guess which comparison is getting more attention on social media.)

It's all pretty funny (if unfortunate), but as we at Brick Underground are wont to do, we also got to wondering if the overhaul makes any major difference for you, the hypothetical Airbnb user.

Well, yes and no.

The new logo--the so-called "Bélo," dubbed by the company a "universal symbol of belonging"--is customizable so that each user's version can look slightly different (and while we're not entirely sure what the point of this is, you can easily fall into a rabbit hole playing around with the site's new "create" tool that lets you make your own).

The really important (and mostly overlooked) change here is the sleek, more user-friendly new layout. The fundamentals of the site haven't changed, but photos are larger; key information like photo, price, location, and house rules is more prominent; the bookings calendar is more visible for at-a-glance scheduling queries; there are new icons that allow guests to review (or scope out) specific amenities; and the map is larger and includes neighborhood guides for the area surrounding your property. (The app has changed a bit, too, with a photo-heavy new listing feed and easier functions for booking and contacting hosts.)

They've put together a handy video tour of the new features, below:

It's clear what they're trying to do with all the elaborate mission statements about "global community" and travel that isn't "mass-produced and commoditized"--it all adds up to the larger argument for Airbnb's positive impact on users and cities, the kind of glowing PR they could use right now in the ongoing fight against local politicians and the hotel industry.

But then, what users actually care about is an easy-to-use site that lets them get what they want for as little money as possible, and their re-design has done just that. (The logo, not so much.) And, of course, there's the million-dollar question of whether or not the service will end up fully legal for New Yorkers. Jury's still out on that one.


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