Airbnb upgrades luxury, boutique offerings and adds loyalty program
- Airbnb, the short-term rental startup with 4.5 million listings in 81,000 cities, announced the addition of four new property types to its previous lineup — entire home, private room and shared space — as well as new tiers of service to appeal to a broader group of consumers. The new properties that debut this summer are categorized as vacation home, unique space, bed and breakfast and boutique.
- A loyalty program and new tier of service launched this week include Airbnb Plus for guests looking to stay in verified properties that the company has inspected for cleanliness, comfort, design and host hospitality. Another tier, Beyond by Airbnb, offers higher-end homes and customized experiences for luxury travel starting this spring.
- The company's new "Collections" feature aims to meet the needs of consumers traveling for a wider variety of occasions, including new property categories to roll out later this year for weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and dinner parties. Airbnb for Family and Airbnb for Work launched this week.
The frequently-disruptive Airbnb is encroaching more into the hotel and travel industry’s turf with its new offerings that are designed to broaden the service's appeal to travelers who might not have previously been interested in sharing another person's home, which is how the company got its start in 2008. Disruptive platforms like Airbnb and Uber that were built around mobile's on-the-go convenience are increasingly branching out into new areas of service, underscoring their potential to disintermediate legacy businesses by catering to millennials on mobile.
Earlier this month, Airbnb announced a partnership with SiteMinder, a hotel booking platform used by 28,000 hotels worldwide. But not all hotels are eligible to list on Airbnb — the company is looking for boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that offer a more "unique" travel experience. With Airbnb's new property types, guests can more easily filter through, view and book homes that fit their specific needs and interests online.
Its expanded listings signal that the company is behaving more like major hotel brands and online travel agencies that offer a variety of price points and service levels to appeal to a broader consumer base. At the same time, Airbnb doesn't want to provide the uniformity of major hotel chains. "Groups that provide mass-produced hospitality, who don't offer belonging, who don't care about what we care about — they don't meet our standards, and they find somewhere else to do their business," co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said at an event this week.
Airbnb, which currently is valued by investors at $30 billion, adds the service tiers as the company faces more restrictions from municipalities on how and where it can operate, according to USA Today. The company's hometown of San Francisco enacted strict rules this year for short-term rentals because too many apartments were being transformed into hotel-type rooms and stifling hospitality competition in the city, the city claimed. The number of Airbnb listings fell by almost half when the rules went into effect. The lodging industry also has criticized Airbnb for intentionally circumventing taxes and regulations placed on traditional hotels.