Airbnb woos well-heeled travelers with new listings for fancy homes

Airbnb is looking to woo well-heeled travelers with the launch of two new tiers of service: Plus and Beyond. The company made the announcement at an event in San Francisco on Thursday.

Plus offers slightly pricier accommodation that should guarantee exceptionally good value and service, while Beyond is a bid by Airbnb to attract wealthier travelers.

Airbnb personally inspects its Plus listings to verify them for quality, evaluating everything from style and comfort to easy check-in and well-equipped kitchens. Hosts at these places are described as “exceptional” for going “over and beyond to create the perfect stay.”

“Airbnb Plus is a new selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail,” the company says on its website. Every Plus listing is “one-of-a-kind, thoughtfully designed, and equipped with a standard set of amenities — whether you’re in a private room or have the entire place to yourself.”

Airbnb Plus listings are showing now for locations in Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco, the New York Times confirmed, and further afield in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Milan, Rome, Cape Town, Melbourne, Sydney, and Shanghai. It start with 2,000 places to stay, with an average rate of $200 a night compared to $100 a night with Airbnb’s regular offerings.

To become part of Plus, hosts have to apply to the company and make an appointment for an inspector to visit. They also need to have a minimum rating of 4.8 out of 5 from guests. Listings that make the grade will get their own “Plus” badge to make them easy to spot on Airbnb’s website.

Beyond

Beyond, coming in the spring, emerges from Airbnb’s 2017 acquisition of Luxury Retreats and will list plush and pricey residences from around the world.

Airbnb is placing these high-end properties on a separate website away from its regular listings, perhaps because they’ll be beyond what most of us can afford. Ah, that’s what it means.

Another change announced on Thursday pertains to how the website is organized. Airbnb now has nearly five million listings globally, so it’s decided to revamp its search system to make it easier for travelers to find what they’re looking for among all the different kinds of properties. For example, coming in the summer, new categories will appear for boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, and another called “uniques” will point people toward quirkier accommodation that could be anything from a “land yacht” to a treehouse or even a cave.

These latest developments are significant for Airbnb as it seeks to widen its appeal and offer a more reliable experience for travelers around the world. Since opening for business in 2008, the online service has enabled around 300 million overnight stays and currently has more than 4.5 million listings in 81,000 cities.

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