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November 17, 2016

Airbnb goes beyond spare rooms with ‘experiences’ and ‘places’

by John_A

It’s no secret that Airbnb has ambitions beyond renting out spare rooms. Not least because local authorities keep throwing water on its core business model. The company has already made some acquisitions in the “experience” space, and run trials offering local guides and excursions to match your local accommodation. Today CEO Brian Chesky finally gave us a concrete idea of exactly what Airbnb’s holistic future, and on-demand travel in general, will look like.

Chesky took to the stage today at the company’s “Open” event in LA to talk through the new comprehensive travel venture, and it’s effectively an extension of the Airbnb rental service that aims to give you the local experience (and maybe save a buck or two on the way).

The new experience category will include single short events, and longer multi-day “Immersions.” Each trip is searchable by city and “passion” (theme). Every one will also include a short movie-style trailer, so you can see what you’re signing up for. Chesky says that at least 50 percent of these multi day experiences will cost less than $200. The example excursions shown included everything from star photography to Korean embroidery. Single day experiences will be similarly diverse, and can include everything from “magic to acrobatics” claims Chesky.

Another addition to the new Airbnb is “places” which includes everything from audio guides created by locals, and “near me now” guides. Not only can you find a local restaurant, you’ll be able to book it directly from the app. The experience fuses Trip-advisor’s guide elements and Google’s advice on when the spot is most busy. Chesky also hinted that Airbnb’s future will include flight booking and “services,” but didn’t spare any more details on stage.

The new sections are available on Airbnb now, but only 12 cities will have the experiences at launch. Those cities are: Detroit, London, Paris, Nairobi, La Habana, San Francisco, Cape Town, Firenze, Miami, Seoul, Tokyo, Los Angeles. Chesky says over 50 cities available next year, with the goal to have global coverage eventually.

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