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Primarily associated with millennial travellers looking for affordable accommodation, Airbnb is now looking to lure in customers from the luxury market.
Speaking at a three-day event in San Francisco, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky this week announced the addition of two new premium services, Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb.
Airbnb Plus properties will be inspected in person by Airbnb for cleanliness, comfort and design, catering for ‘guests looking for beautiful homes, exceptional hosts and added peace of mind.’ The service is currently available at 2,000 homes in 13 cities around the world, and will roll out globally later in the year.
Beyond by Airbnb will be a standalone site with high-end properties and an optional concierge service curating ‘custom-designed experiences’. The service is similar to offerings currently provided by luxury hotels or resorts.
The platform will also now sort bookable vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels and ‘unique’ properties, including tree-houses and igloos, into dedicated search categories.
While the accommodation types were already available on the platform, they weren’t listed under separate search tiers, making it difficult for customers to find what they were looking for.
Commenting on the brand’s attempt to streamline and expand its offering, CEO Brian Chesky told reporters ‘we have a lot more than shared rooms, private rooms and entire homes,’ adding that the platform currently offers more than 4.5 million places to stay in 191 countries.
Airbnb is also rolling out a ‘superguest’ award (similar to its current ‘superhost’ badge), offering its most highly-rated customers benefits including discounts, airport pickups, flight upgrades and lounge access.
The new offerings follow the 2016 release of Airbnb Experiences, a service that gives customers the chance to book host-led activities, from guided walking tours to cooking lessons taught by locals.
The 10-year-old start-up, now valued at more than $30bn, unveiled its new offerings as part of an ambitious roadmap looking to place the company on a path to more than 1 billion annual guests by 2028.
While the platform has faced challenges – from criticism over its expansion in cities like Barcelona and San Francisco, to calls from competitors in the hospitality space demanding the platform be taxed and regulated like the hotel industry – it is widely anticipated to be one of the next major consumer IPOs.