Airbnb rolls out a new level for high-end travelers – TechCrunch
Airbnb is rolling out a few new additions to its home reservation system today, including new tiers for premium customers called Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb.
The new Airbnb Plus tier offers homes that are verified for “quality and comfort”, with around 2,000 homes to start with that have been inspected against an extensive checklist. The Luxe level, called Beyond by Airbnb, is built around comprehensive trips that include hospitality, a personalized experience, and of course, high-end homes. Each appears to target verticals within the travel space that make sense based on the typical hospitality industry, but have not been specifically singled out on Airbnb. Airbnb said 300 million people have used Airbnb to date, with 400,000 “superhosts” around the world “
“10 years later, Airbnb is still an alternative,” said Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, at the event. “It’s still not for everyone.”
Rather than just searching for a home on Airbnb and flipping through photos or reviews, the new levels can give willing-to-spend guests the chance to tap into the same expectations they’d get from a luxury resort – or, at least, an upscale aimed at achieving the status of something like the Sofitel in Bangkok, Thailand. Frequent business travelers have often accumulated huge amounts of reward points (and perhaps have larger travel budgets) and may be used to them. The Bahamas could offer (with slides and everything).
In addition to these levels, which are announced at an event in San Francisco this morning (I heard there could be over 1,000 employees at this event as well as a few dozen “super hosts”) , the company is also adding new ways to search for a property on its service. The new supports are the vacation home, the unique space, the B&B and the Boutique. All of this already existed on the platform, but that segmentation was not there yet. Hosts will be able to have a more precise way to classify their homes. As Airbnb strives to be a community-driven product, it’s no surprise that a huge event takes place in a huge venue featuring these same super-hosts.
In fact, you will often find this kind of home setup already in place when looking for accommodation abroad. You could find several rental units in the same building, or of the same configuration, all with the same host. it’s almost like some kind of bogus hotel system, but it will provide an opportunity for Airbnb hosts to differentiate themselves for users who are looking for something more specific. Or you might find a tiny house on the beach where the hosts provide plenty of amenities and maybe even food. Either way, these granular options aim to not only help users dig deeper into specific experiences, but also help hosts raise their hands to identify that their homes are suitable for those experiences.
While Airbnb has tried to start transforming itself into something of an experience machine with the launch of Experiences, it is trying to market itself as an alternative and more robust option in the hospitality industry. Rather than just booking a hotel at a luxury resort that you find on TripAdvisor, Airbnb tries to build credibility that it can offer unique experiences that you won’t find in these hotel environments – be it a small apartment in the middle of Shinjuku, Japan, in a beautiful condo in the middle of Ponta Delgada in the Azores. It all comes down to the hosts, who now have the opportunity to try and create those experiences and, in the end, earn an additional source of income on the property they might already own.
While Airbnb was already sort of an intention-driven service – people probably have a general idea of what they’re looking for when they come in – it could really go both ways. This could make Airbnb a discovery hub for people looking to travel abroad with personalized experiences and a more comprehensive range of home options. Or it could force these to be even more granular and silo users even further. Either way, the company’s Experiences product seems to be doing well (and they’re not bad in my experience of trying it as well), so it looks like the end result will be hanging around until what we saw how it goes. for a few months.
Still, Airbnb will continue to face challenges, ranging from some criticism for its expansion in cities like New York to the recent departure of its CFO Laurence Tosi. Airbnb is being seen as one of the next big IPOs with consumers, which is highly anticipated given Snap’s near-flop and Blue Apron’s most definitive flop as everyone holds their breath for the Uber IPO in 2019. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said there are no plans to go public in 2018, but that doesn’t change that it needs to establish itself as a company that has the capacity to be a strong competitor in the hotel space.