Airbnb is finally moving beyond the scope of its $30 billion home rental business to enable users to book a complete travelling experience through its application. The company aims to provide hosts and their guests with a chance to add to the culture of the local community and create some ‘magical’ and ‘meaningful’ moments in the process. And mind you, this has been in work for months now.
Thus, the company is today updating its application to add the one feature that’ll pivot them from being just a home-stay aggregator to a complete travel itenary generator. Called ‘Airbnb Trips,’ this new feature, in addition to booking your stay, will enable you to book different tours, events and experiences offered by the hosts and locals.
The primary idea behind the launch of this service is to provide travelers with unprecedented access to local passions and interests in their local area. Instead of exploring only the monuments or food joints the destination is widely known for, Airbnb aims to connect you with immersive local experiences — experiences you wouldn’t get a chance to reach without interacting and bonding with locals. The company wants you to return from a trip with the true essense of the local community.
Commenting on the launch of experiences, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says,
Until now, Airbnb has been about homes. 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.
So the biggest question which still remains unanswered is: What the heck are these experiences and how do they exactly work? Airbnb has added two new tabs — Explore & Trips — in its application to enable you to sketch out the specifics of your trip. Within the Explore tab, you have a new experience feature which will provide you access to handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts or hosts. It will open up access to places, activities, and communities that you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to interact with.
For example, you could go from a Samurai swordplay workshop in Tokyo, driving expensive vinatge cars in Malibu to experiencing Truffle Hunting in Tuscany or the grime music scene in London. On the stage at the launch event, Chesky added that these experiences would offer a kind of preview of all activities included in the package. You’ll be greeted with video and photo previews of the same and most of these experiences, he added, would cost less than 200 dollars.
In addition, Airbnb is also topping up the experiences feature with a new ‘Places’ tab within Explore itself. This replaces the guidebooks tab which was previously added to the application in 2015. The Places feature, which has been curated by local hosts, helps you find new places to go and things to do with the community.
One can call this feature synonymous to ‘personal recommendations’ about a destination which would include ‘insider info’ and ‘hidden touristy gems’ oin the city. The company is providing over a million individual recommendations worldwide, which will soon be available to experience via audio. This will be made possible, thanks to the partnership with a startups called Detour. It is also planning to integrate table reservation at restaurants into its own application, in partnership with Resy.
Starting today, the Trips feature is going live in 12 cities across the globe, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul. With the availability of over 500 experiences, the company is also letting budding hosts in these and 39 other cities build an extensive list of experiences for travelers. Airbnb is also looking to integrate car rentals, food delivery and flight booking services into its application in the coming months.
Airbnb doesn’t aim to stay restricted to its $30 billion market but expand and serve the people, its users or travelers, as a full-fledged travel planner for all their trips. This not only provides the company with another source of monetary income but also provides host with an opportunity to earn more as well. The company had just recently minted a fresh $850 million at the aformentioned valuation. It has also made Superhosts more powerful by providing them the power to help out in managing others properties as well. The new service also gives it a cushin over the numerous allegations and lawsuits it has run into over the past couple fo years in the U.S
Getting travelers out of the hoax hubbub surrounding key experiences, the company plans to redefine them. This can only be made possible by bringing the community closer to you, and you closer to the community. The true aim of ‘experiences’ is to do execute the same.