Airbnb has been breathing down hotels’ necks for years as it gains ground on the incumbents of the hospitality industry. Now, the company has taken yet another step closer to becoming the lodging platform of choice for travelers around the world. Last week, the short-term rental company debuted a series of new features on its website in a new initiative called “Airbnb for everyone.” Its point? To prove that when it comes to booking your next stay, you probably get the same experience whether you opt for a traditional hotel or an Airbnb property.
This is partially because you will now be able to use Airbnb to book rooms in boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, turning Airbnb into, well, a hotel company. While the platform has long been known for renting out your neighbor’s apartment or your friend’s home for a few days at a time, Airbnb is now looking to expand its options even further (and begin stepping on the toes of hotels in a very real way).
Further, Airbnb is adding a few new “tiers” of service, all in the name of making the platform more accessible. There is the new Airbnb Plus, which is an elite selection of properties that Airbnb representatives will have personally inspected and identified as top of the line. As Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky described at a launch event, these homes will be “insanely nice.”
Airbnb Plus offers “guests looking for beautiful homes” and “exceptional hosts” a specially curated group of properties, though they are not necessarily more expensive. Chesky says the average price is still less than $250 a night, but that the homes and apartments will have a well-stocked kitchen, fast Wi-Fi, and comfortable bedding. Plus, folks who book an Airbnb Plus offering will have access to premium customer support, just in case something isn’t up to snuff.
Also new is Beyond by Airbnb, which is the result of Airbnb’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats a little over a year ago. The homes in this tier are some of the fanciest Airbnb offers — if you’re looking for a villa or a mansion, this where you will want to go. In addition to these luxury accommodations, Beyond by Airbnb also offers guests unique “experiences,” though it’s unclear what those are. We’ll be able to find out this spring when Beyond launches.
There is also a new Superguest program, which is similar to hotel loyalty offerings and is a play off of the existing Superhost program that gives preference to frequent and well-rated hosts on the platform. The potential benefits of being a Superguest might include lower prices on both rentals and transportation, or access to certain perks. For the time being, Superguest is launching in a trial phase for 10,000 folks over the summer and will be rolled out to everyone later in 2018.
“Part of what we wanted to do with this launch, is reframe why people come to this platform,” Director of Engineering Surabhi Gupta said during the company’s launch event. “There are a bunch of guests that aren’t considering us today, they’ve written us off because they think, ‘Airbnb doesn’t have a product for me.’ We do believe that we have a product for a whole spectrum of travelers, but we haven’t made it easy for you as a guest to find those options.”
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