Airbnb Wants to Do Much More Than Offer You a Place to Stay
Airbnb has to do more than help people rent out their spare bedrooms to make it a $30-billion company.
And so, on Thursday, the ways in which the company plans to expand became clear: by handling every part of the travel experience, from accommodations to activities to dining—and eventually even car rentals and flights.
The company's origin story has always focused on more than a bed to sleep in: Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO, likes to tell the story of hosting his first guest in San Francisco. He didn't just inflate an air mattress for the visitor, he took him around to see the city, to eat where locals eat, and to see what locals see. Although Airbnb's success until now has been built on its ability to offer an alternative to traditional hotels, the company's future looks heavily focused on providing travelers with the myriad services they want, when they want them.
At the annual Airbnb Open, held this year in Los Angeles, California, Chesky said the company's goal is to make trips “easy and magical.”
Here's how they plan to do it.
Trips, according to Airbnb, is a “people-powered platform” that brings together “where you stay, what you do and the people you meet all in one place.”
Accommodation—Airbnb's bread and butter (if bread and butter faced some legal troubles in different municipalities)—is only one part of Trips: The company on Thursday launched “Experiences” and “Places,” and plans to also launch “Flights” and “Services” soon.
Trips launched in 12 cities on Thursday, and the company plans to have 50 cities by the end of next year. Eventually, Chesky says it will be in every city.
What is an Airbnb “Experience”?
Experiences are “handcrafted” activities with local experts, according to Airbnb.
Some of the examples offered include a behind-the-scenes look at Detroit's Downtown Boxing Gym with Khali Sweeney, and a multi-day experience to learn how to drive classic cars in Malibu. Many of the experiences have an historical, arts, or culinary focus.
Half of the experiences are $200 or less, according to Chesky. Since some are a few hours and others are several days, prices vary widely.
Adding guidebooks, audio walks and meetups
Airbnb is launching 100 guidebooks (which are free in-app) by “local experts,” in six cities to start: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul.
Airbnb is also partnering with Detour to offer audio walks, starting Thursday with Los Angeles, and adding San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo, and Seoul in the spring of next year.
While the limited launch means not all Airbnb users will immediately be able to test the features out, the rollout shows the company is making each city's offering robust.
The Whole Package
And as game show hosts like to say, “that's not all.”
Airbnb revealed plans to soon offer transportation including car rentals and flights, and services like grocery delivery and restaurant reservations.
Chesky also provided a demo on Thursday of the app's new “timeline” feature, which lets travelers look back at past trips—much like Google Trips, which launched recently and offers itineraries and travel organization.
The new features are now available in the Airbnb app.