When Airbnb customers search for accommodation, Airbnb displays per-night prices that exclude its own per-night service charges, and the total price is not revealed until the customer selects an individual property. Furthermore, if the customer searches for properties within a price range, the search returns properties where only part of the price falls within the desired price range rather than where the total price falls within the price range. In late 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against Airbnb for this form of drip pricing. Consequently users of Airbnb's Australian web site now see the total price of a stay including all unavoidable charges at every stage of the booking process. In July 2018, the European Commission threatened action against Airbnb in view of its website breaching EU law by headline prices failing to include fees and charges later passed on to the consumer, including cleaning costs.
The company was conceived after its founders put an air mattress in their living room, effectively turning their apartment into a bed and breakfast, in order to offset the high cost of rent in San Francisco; Airbnb is a shortened version of its original name, AirBedandBreakfast.com.
In July 2014, Airbnb revealed design revisions to the site and mobile app and introduced a new logo. Some considered the new logo to be visually similar to genitalia, but a consumer survey by Survata showed only a minority of respondents thought this was the case.
In June 2017, Airbnb launched Open Homes, to connect hosts offering free or low-cost housing to uprooted people, such as refugees and those fleeing natural disasters.
In October 2011, Airbnb established an office in London, its second international office.
In June 2015, Airbnb raised $1.5 billion in a Series E funding led by General Atlantic, and joined by Hillhouse Capital Group, Tiger Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GGV Capital, China Broadband Capital, and Horizons Ventures.
In November 2012, Airbnb opened an office in Sydney, Australia, its 11th office location, and announced plans to launch the service in Thailand and Indonesia. In December 2012, Airbnb announced its strategy to move more aggressively into the Asian market with the launch of an office in Singapore.
In June 2015, Airbnb sponsored the Manor F1 Team and the Airbnb logo appeared on the front nose of the cars and on team wear including the drivers' overalls.
A Vice News journalist reported in October 2019 on a bait-and-switch scam in which a network of fake accounts advertised stays at dozens of properties across eight US cities that once booked was said to be unavailable at the last minute. Substandard alternatives were offered in their place, including to the journalist, refunds were refused, fake positive reviews were left for the fake properties, and negative retaliatory reviews were left for customers who complained. Airbnb closed some of the accounts and the FBI began an investigation in response to the report.
In the summer of 2016, at the request of three members of the United States Senate, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating how Airbnb affected housing costs. In October 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill charging Airbnb fines for violations of local housing laws. The New York Times reported that these events were related and part of a "plan that the hotel association started in early 2016 to thwart Airbnb".
By October 2019, two million people were staying with Airbnb each night.
In 2018, Airbnb announced that it will remove the approximately 200 "listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians". Listings in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights were not affected. The move was praised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Palestinians, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. The move was criticized by the Israeli Tourism Minister and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which decried the move as antisemitism. A class action suit in the Jerusalem district court alleging discrimination based on place of residence was filed against Airbnb by affected property owners. In April 2019 the company has announced that it "will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform" and that "Any profits generated for Airbnb … will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world".
In July 2014, Airbnb became the official jersey sponsor for the Australia men's national basketball team at the 2014 Basketball World Cup.
In July 2016, former Attorney General Eric Holder was hired to help craft an anti-discrimination policy for Airbnb after the company faced many complaints related to racism, including a study by Harvard Business School that showed widespread discrimination by hosts against guests whose names suggested that they were black. Airbnb has also faced complaints of racial discrimination in China.
In 2018, Airbnb employees provided "11,000 hours of service to 250 projects worldwide", according to the company, as a result of its policy to provide employees with paid time off to be used for volunteering.
Similar concerns have been raised in other parts of the world such as Scotland, where, in 2017, an increase in Airbnb listings alarmed the local community. Airbnb has carried out extensive lobbying of Scottish politicians to oppose a law which would restrict short-term lettings.
Since January 2018, Airbnb lets guests book with a deposit instead of requiring to pay the full amount in advance.
Due to the growth of international end-users, in early 2012, Airbnb opened offices in Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, and São Paulo. These openings were in addition to existing offices in San Francisco, London, Hamburg, and Berlin. In September 2013, the company announced that it would establish its European headquarters in Dublin.
On May 30, 2018, CEO Brian Chesky said Airbnb "will be ready to IPO next year, but I don't know if we will."
Airbnb allows hosts to choose among three ways of cancellation policies, made to protect both hosts and guests. Options are: Flexible, Moderate, and Strict.