Airbnb’s industry-disrupting accommodation rental service already has hotels and travel agents on the defensive. With its new update, an extensive rollout called Airbnb Trips, the company is poised to make the competition even more obsolete.
Each year, Airbnb hosts Airbnb Open, a multi-day event that’s part corporate pep rally, part trade show, and part festival designed to drum up public goodwill. At this year’s conference in Los Angeles, CEO Brian Chesky announced the company’s plan to expand into ‘Experiences’ – tours and other organised events hosted in cities around the world. Airbnb is calling it the “biggest news in company history” and the “next chapter” of its development.
“The problem [for visitors to a new city] is it’s really hard to meet anybody who lives there,” Chesky said during his opening keynote. “How do you immerse in a local community?”
The company’s answer is buying and selling Experiences via the Airbnb Trips platform. The feature allows in-the-know local hosts to sell immersive Experiences to guests, outings that could range from a couple of hours to a couple of days. A visitor could sign up for a meal with a host at an under-the-radar restaurant, a weekend of dirt bike touring, or instruction in a traditional regional craft from an expert.
The freshly updated app also includes a series of curated guidebooks called Places. Places offers lists of suggested destinations and activities chosen by specially selected tastemakers. A famous food writer, for instance, might provide a list of recommended restaurants, while an artist could suggest an itinerary for discovering a city’s best street art.
Airbnb Trips has launched with 500 experiences in 12 cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo, and Seoul. Chesky says the company hopes to bring it to dozens more in the coming months.