After “disrupting” the accommodation industry, Airbnb is continuing on a path to become more mainstream.
“Airbnb Plus is a new selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail,” according to the company. “Every home is visited in person for a 100+ point quality inspection to ensure your comfort.” Hosts of Airbnb Plus homes are also supposed to have at least a 4.8 rating.
The designation, which will be visible on listings as a “PLUS” badge, could come as a relief to travelers who are a bit uneasy about either the safety or the comfort of a stranger's home.
Of course, sending inspectors to individual listings is a timely process — only about 2,000 listings in 13 cities will be part of the launch, USA Today reported.
For travelers who aren't quite impressed enough by “Plus,” Airbnb also announced “Beyond,” a new tier of booking that “will offer custom designed trips of a lifetime, including the world’s finest homes, custom experiences and world-class hospitality.”
And, in addition to verifying the quality of home listings, Airbnb also announced four new property types. The existing options of Entire Home, Private Room and Shared Space will now be joined by “Vacation Home, Unique, B&B and Boutiques” — as in boutique “hotels,” a word only mentioned once in the announcement. Smaller properties have previously been listed on Airbnb, but this marks an official addition. A new loyalty program for both guests and hosts will be rolled out along with these updates, promising "benefits across the entire trip," but Airbnb has not revealed any details as to what those benefits will be.
The home/apartment/room rental service that began as an extra couch in San Francisco is still trying to distinguish itself from hotel chains, but that appears to be increasingly difficult as it looks to standardize the experience to give travelers a consistent experience.