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Humans have always traveled in packs. But booking this style of travel online has always been difficult—few sites allow users to divvy up payments among several travelers. 
 
Airbnb to the rescue. The short-term rental marketplace announced last week that it is modifying its website and app to allow groups to reserve accommodations so that no one member will be left holding the bag.

Here's how it works: The "leader of the pack" picks a property and then decides how the payment will be divided. Then, he or she makes the reservation, paying only his or her share. All of the group's members must then enter their credit card information within 72 hours to hold the booking. If they don't, the original booker gets his or her money back.

This means the planner doesn’t get stuck with the bill if the group includes slackers—a real problem according to an Airbnb-commissioned study of 2,000 group travelers. Of those polled, some two-thirds never got all the money they were owed by the folks in their travel party.  
 
Airbnb isn't the first company to try removing the pain from group travel planning—but it may be the one to succeed. In recent years, several startups have tried to tackle the problem, but they’ve fallen short because not enough travelers knew they existed.

One called Travefy, however, seems to have legs. Ignore its homepage, which is geared entirely to travel professionals—the site and app work well for amateurs, too. Travefy allows users to create and share itineraries and book blocks of rooms for groups small and large (a destination wedding, perhaps?).

But what may be most useful about Travefy is its payment tool, which allows travelers to divide costs before, during, and after the trip. So, for example, if a group meal was reserved midway through, the group leader could send out notices of the cost right before the meal (if there's a set menu), and collect payments with little fuss before fork hits plate. Or if the group splurged on a night on the town and one member ended up paying more than everybody else, the planner could send out a notice with a link for repayment to correct the imbalance. Site users can pay one another easily and securely online. 
 
I should also point out that Orbitz, Booking.com, and other major online travel agencies have long allowed users to book blocks of rooms, though they don’t have the ability to divide up costs among several travelers—at least, not yet. 


Tags: airbnb, rentals, group travel, travefy

Categories: Family & Kids, Money and Currency, Vacations