"You realize over time that you do have to take more responsibility for your platform, you have to be hands on, you have to make judgments", Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in an interview with The Associated Press.
As online travel agencies like Booking.com move on to Airbnb's territory by offering short-term home and apartment rentals, Airbnb is responding by diversifying its offerings, and opening new lines of business like its "Experiences" product, which launched in November 2016.
The company will also begin offering four new types of properties classified as vacation homes, boutiques, bed and breakfast units and "unique" homes. So, why the change now?
By the end of the year, Airbnb foresees verifying the quality of 75,000 homes in 50 cities.
During a presentation in San Francisco, Chesky announced other steps created to make Airbnb more like a traditional hospitality company instead of an industry renegade that has siphoned business away from major hotels.
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The platform, he said, has grown to include 4.5m places to stay, making it hard to find what users were looking for. "We have something for everyone, but it's hard to find anything", he added.
"People thought the idea that strangers would stay in each other's homes was insane", Chesky said.
Increasingly, that also means moving beyond shared homes to hotels.
Starting with a trial of 10,000 customers, Airbnb is also introducing a rewards scheme called "Superguest" that will offer benefits to frequent customers. Airbnb says hosts of the properties must have a 4.8 out of 5-star rating or higher. This will give greater choice of accommodation options to guests, provide greater transparency over the types of accommodation available, and help hosts better showcase what's unique about them to better match with guests' preferences. To meet the needs of such a diverse range of travelers, Airbnb is launching Collections - ideal homes for every occasion. The program launch will offer 10,000 users these custom bonus experiences. AirBnB Plus includes homes that have been verified for quality and comfort, after passing a 100 point checklist. If they are selected, the hosts get design consultation and expert photography, and their properties will get top placement on Airbnb's app. The American Hotel & Lodging Association, the lobbying arm of the hotel industry, fired off a terse statement from Troy Flanagan, VP of state & local government affairs, subsequent to Airbnb's morning announcements.
That means Airbnb has needed to re-think its business. From today, Airbnb is making tools available to hosts to categorize their listings to an unprecedented level of detail in the travel industry, not only making it possible to organize everything by these 7 core property types, but also opening the door to sophisticated search capabilities that will allow any traveler to find the host and home that's right for them.
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