Airbnb Unveils Gift Cards And Open Source Features At Open Air 2015

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What do Mike Curtis, Airbnb’s VP of Engineering, and Oprah have in common? I’ll answer that for you: they like to give away free stuff. While Oprah gives away free cars and appliances, however, Curtis likes to make powerful programs available to everyone without cost.

Airbnb is a website and mobile application that connects travelers to rooms, apartments, and homes available to rent. The service reached tremendous popularity because it offers untold levels of interconnectivity for people around the world. Hosts meet and interact with their guests, turning complete strangers into friends.

Airbnb website

In an exciting turn of events,  Airbnb is literally opening a world of possibilities for travelers by offering gift cards. The unveil was coupled with a giveaway of $100 gift cards to all OpenAir attendees. As a traveler who has had a fantastic experience with my previous Airbnb parings, I’m already planning my next vacation.

Price Tips is another new feature that recommends prices to hosts based on the time of year, popular events that bring in tourists, and property value within the locale. The calendar has been updated for ease of use and provides users with pricing information.


As the service has grown, it has had to deal with the issue of scaling: more people around the world are opening rooms to guests and more travelers are utilizing the website during their trips. To manage the number of languages and cultures that collide on the website, Airbnb has upped the level of personalization it offers to users on both sides of the interaction. Several open source programs that have already begun this process.

Airflow is the first program the company unveiled at today’s conference. This program helps users of all specializations to manage and schedule data. Individuals can access the most recent data and also customize the level of abstraction of the results.

Another key theme of OpenAir this year is machine learning (ML), which increases personalization by learning and adapting to human behavior. This is used for fraud protection, search ranking, and personalization for nearly every popular service based website. For Airbnb, ML helps users find a listing with desirable amenities. Through thousands of decision paths, Airbnb uses machine learning to heighten the likelihood that a match will yield a successful result.


Aerosolve, Airbnb’s final open source program, will process all of the data needed to provide its customers with individualized service.

Just as Oprah hoped to spread good well by doing giveaways at all of her shows, Airbnb hopes to streamline the internet’s data pipeline by sharing these three programs with other developers.

Stay tuned for more OpenAir 2015 updates!

Email Billy Rehbock at [email protected] or Tweet him to let him know how he’s doing!