Airbnb wants to start competing with hotels with a new premium service

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The Shark Aquarium/Airbnb
Airbnb has always been known as the hotel alternative, but now, it seems as though the short-term rental service wants to get into direct competition with the giants of the hospitality industry. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the San Francisco-based company is “close to launching a new service that will match guests with quality-inspected home and apartment rentals.”

According to Bloomberg, the new product offering would be geared toward more affluent guests — or at least, those willing to pay more. While Airbnb has seen plenty of adoption among younger travelers who are happy to give up a few amenities for the promise of inexpensive lodging, the service also wants to appeal to folks who are more accustomed to fancier hotels.

Apparently, this appeal will begin with a pilot program set to begin any day now. A select group of hosts has reportedly been contacted to take part in the trial and Airbnb is said to be sending inspectors into chosen properties to make sure that they satisfy a rigorous list of quality checkpoints. If the inspection goes well and the home is determined satisfactory (or really, exceptional), the hosts would be eligible for a special featured section of Airbnb’s website and mobile app.

While Airbnb certainly emphasizes the open community nature of its platform, it is also now making a more concerted effort to offer a premium service. Bloomberg reports this new initiative is known internally as “Select,” but an official public-facing name has not yet been agreed upon. That said, Bloomberg reports this new section could be ready to roll by the end of the year. We reached out to Airbnb for comment and will update this piece with any new information.

Bloomberg’s sources note that “offering a premium selection of rentals may help Airbnb lure older and wealthier travelers, who’ve been hesitant to book on the home-sharing platform because they believe it’s less polished than a luxury hotel room.” Considering that Airbnb gets a cut of all bookings, the more expensive the properties are, the better.

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