Airbnb wants to go beyond than just letting you rent a homestay during your vacation and the intentions have been quite clear for a while. At the Airbnb Open conference yesterday in Los Angeles, CEO Brian Chesky took the stage to introduce new additions under the Airbnb name. This is certainly one of the biggest developments for the company since it came into existence eight years ago.
Trips is a people powered platform to make travel easy and offer almost everything in one place. Trips has been launched with Experiences, Places and Homes and Airbnb also plans to add Flight and Services in future. Staying true to Airbnb’s message of belong anywhere, Trips would enable travellers to experience destinations like a local with their local hosts.
“Until now, Airbnb has been about homes,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO. “Today, Airbnb is launching Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip.”
Experiences can vary from quick runs through some food stalls in an alley to multi day immersive tours. The latter can be browsed on a rich theatrical interface with posters and previews. Trips launches with around 500 Experiences across 12 cities worldwide with the platform opening up for hosts in another 39 cities.
Airbnb hosts and local influencers will share their recommendations in a series of curated guidebooks called Places. To couple with it, Airbnb has partnered with Resy, a restaurant booking platform, to allow travellers to book table right from their app. They have also partnered with Detour to offer experiential audio walking tours to discover their neighbourhood starting with Los Angeles.
With so much on offer, Airbnb is also adding trip itinerary to organise the bookings in a simple timeline from where one can easily tweak or book. This will evolve over time with machine learning to dynamically suggest personalised and contextual recommendations during a trip.
Adding experiences was certainly the next logic step for the poster child of sharing economy. While there is plenty of room for Airbnb to grow the accommodation business in other markets, some of its key markets are limiting its headroom with regulations. It is challenging for P2P service platforms to get the initial set of customers and grow. However, with the strong community Airbnb has, it will be easier to give the services a push.
Recommendations, for instance, aren’t easy to monetize for someone doing just that. Here, it will add value to the offering and can be easily sustained. On top of that, the partnerships would still allow them to monetise the feature at this scale. The experiences would attract a new set of users who were possibly not associated with the brand until now. This also opens up the possibility of getting new hosts and guests for rentals as they associate with the brand through Experiences.