Published on Friday, November 18, 2016

Airbnb to sell flights and tours

Homesharing website Airbnb has confirmed plans to become a full travel provider with the launch of Trips.

Unveiling the 'most significant development in its eight-year history' it said it wants to move beyond just accommodation to 'experiences, places and homes' before moving into flights and services 'in the future'.

A spokeswoman would not give any more detail about the timing of the flights and services launch, nor how the flights would be sold.

The plans were unveiled at this week's Airbnb Open conference in Los Angeles, where staff, hosts and customers were joined by celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher, to hear about the group's future strategy.

"Until now, Airbnb has been about homes," said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO.

"Today, Airbnb is launching Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip.

"Having already transformed where people stay when they travel through people-powered hospitality, Airbnb is taking this same people-focused approach to the rest of the trip and, in doing so, providing a way for people to make money from their passions and interests."

Trips launches with around 500 'experiences' in 12 cities worldwide, including London, Paris, Florence, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul.

From today, hosts in these cities and a further 39 cities worldwide can request to list their 'experiences' on the site.

Meanwhile, a 'Trips Itinerary', will 'bring together everything the traveller needs to know into one simple timeline, with the ability to easily book and add experiences or things to do'.

The launch of Trips also sees the introduction of a new tighter identity authentication process where hosts and guests will be asked to scan their passport or driving license and then take a simple selfie.

"Having a more robust standard of authenticating identity will make the Airbnb community stronger and reaffirms Airbnb's ongoing commitment to authenticity, reliability, and security," it said.

The new ID is required for all 'Experiences' users, and is also currently being tested for homes bookings.

As part of its 'Trips' initiative, Airbnb has also launched Insider Guidebooks in six cities - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul - and said more will come soon.

Airbnb's home hosts will continue to recommend their favourite hidden gems in their neighbourhoods, from cafes and restaurants to parks and attractions.

A partnership with restaurant booking platform, Resy, will make it possible for people in future to book tables at local restaurants directly through the Airbnb app.

Airbnb has also struck an exclusive deal with Detour to offer access to experiential audio walking tours. Audio tours will initially be available for just Los Angeles with San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul to follow by Spring 2017.


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