Airbnb enters the “luxury” market

When Airbnb Launched in 2008, the tech start-up offered cash-strapped travelers inexpensive overnight stays on sofas and in guest rooms across the world.

What a difference 11 years make.

With the introduction of a new level of rental aptly named Airbnb Luxury, the company’s accommodation options, which had previously expanded to include entire homes and even high-end homes, now include the high-end market.

“We have an overall strategy to have a product for every traveler, and Luxe is for those looking for luxury,” said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb.

The Luxe portfolio of 2,000 homes, available from Tuesday, includes villas in Tuscany, ski chalets in New Zealand and castles in the French countryside. They were selected from among the 5,000 properties listed on Luxury retreats, a high-end vacation rental company acquired by Airbnb in 2017.

Customers of these homes, Mr. Chesky said, are the same guests who rented sofas with the company when they were younger, though they now have well-paying jobs and more demanding tastes and are looking for a upscale accommodation. Airbnb has seen a 60% increase over the past year in bookings that cost $ 1,000 or more a night, Mr. Chesky said (he declined to be more specific).

Several criteria were used to select Luxury properties. The design, location and views of the house should reflect a sense of place. For example, a modern villa located above Clifton Beach in Cape Town, has custom finishes made from locally sourced materials and houses an extensive collection of native art.

The activities offered by the houses are also present and should give customers an idea of ​​the culture and lifestyle of the destination. TO Vicarello Castle, a medieval castle in the Tuscan countryside, you can walk 100 hectares of land and help local farmers harvest grapes and olives.

Reservations for entry-level Luxe listings, typically two-bedroom condominiums in the Caribbean, start at around $ 600 a night in low season. The most expensive, a private atoll in French Polynesia called Nukutepipi, is about $ 1 million per week. The property has 21 rooms, four swimming pools and a staff of 50 people.

Mr Chesky said the average listing on Luxe is $ 2,000 a night. On the main site, by comparison, travelers can find listings for under $ 20 a night that include a apartment in St. Petersburg for $ 10 a night. For Plus, the corporate level that includes more upscale homes but not necessarily luxury, the average listing is $ 150 a night.

All renters are assigned a travel designer – similar to a concierge or travel counselor – who helps them organize every aspect of their stay, from airport transfers and restaurant reservations to tours and local experiences at the property she’s. -same.

Even with this level of detail, it will be a challenge for Airbnb to gain credibility in the luxury travel industry, said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University in New Jersey.

“Airbnb has a reputation for being a more affordable alternative to a hotel, and the company needs to build a reputation in a new area and attract a new demographic of travelers,” he said. “It’s not easy to do in an ultra-competitive market.

Airbnb will face the heat of competitors, including Far from home and Olivier’s travels. Marriott recently adventure in the home rental industry with the launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which offers 2,000 rentals in more than 100 destinations around the world. Last week, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts announced Four Seasons Private Retreats, a collection of over 750 premium rental villas and homes in 21 destinations including Kyoto, Japan; Seychelles ; and Whistler, Canada.

The overwhelming demand for vacation home rentals may work in Airbnb’s favor. Skift Search estimates that in 2018, alternative accommodation, which includes these rentals, generated $ 22.7 billion in revenue. This year, Skift expects industry revenues to increase 30% to nearly $ 30 billion.

While luxury may be new to Airbnb, the company has already branched out into different segments of travel. His Experiences The platform, where travelers can book tours and activities with Airbnb hosts, is available in more than a dozen destinations around the world. Earlier this month, his Adventures was introduced, offering overnight hosted adventure trips, such as lion tracking on foot in Africa.

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