Why it matters to you
Airbnb guests could see faster responses while hosts can spend less time answering them with a new option from Burner.
A new chatbot is aiming to help Airbnb visitors get immediate answers to their questions — and allow hosts to spend a little less time answering them. Announced on Tuesday, Hostbot is a tool that answers the most frequently asked questions for Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and other vacation rental marketplaces.
The feature comes from Burner, an app from the start-up Ad Hoc that gives you another phone number to keep your actual number private while still receiving text and voice messages on the same phone. The app is popular for keeping work or project calls like rental properties separate from a private phone number.
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While Burner already offers a private number for hosts, setting up Hostbot within the Burner app creates an automatic response system. With Hostbot, when guests text one of the most frequently asked questions, the chatbot will respond for them, cutting back on the messages hosts need to send. The chatbot sends out replies that the hosts write during the initial setup — Hostbot currently uses a list of 16 of the most frequently asked questions.
When there’s a question not among that list of 16, hosts can just respond as they normally would.
The new chatbot is being added to Burner’s list of features, which includes turning off a certain number at certain times, setting unique answering machine messages or simply deleting a Burner number when you are finished with it. The company suggests using a separate Burner number for each rental property.
The launch of Hostbot came on the same day Burner announced the launch of their API, which allows third-party companies access to use Burner for their own apps or to create plug-ins to expand Burner’s functionality. That means more add-ons and chatbots like Hostbot will likely be coming to the Burner platform.
Burner is a free download for both iOS and Android, with in-app credits and subscriptions for the additional phone lines.