From what started out as a bedroom idea, AirBnB is now one of the biggest and most successful technology start-ups based on the sharing economy principle. It now boasts of more than three million listings across all continents-- except Antarctica.
This month, AirBnB founders Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia have just unveiled AirBnB Trips, the company's new platform to integrate authentic accommodations with authentic travel experiences.
AirBnB Trips features the following:
Experiences: where users can book local trips "designed and led by experts, like chefs, street artists, and sumo champs."
Places: where users can explore on "thousands of secret spots, recommended by local insiders and community of hosts." This concept is much like that of Couchsurfing.com, a hospitality service and social networking website, where travelers can meet up with locals so they can visit, eat and travel "like a local."
Host an experience: with this feature, hosts go beyond hosting accommodations. They can also start accepting bookings for local tours that they want to lead. It can also be as simple as tagging along a traveler who might want to join an approved host in his/her trip.
Local co-hosts: it's a common problem for many hosts to be blocking off booking dates when they are away. With the new local co-host feature, hosts can help each other manage each other's bookings when either is unavailable.
New mobile features: the company has now made its inbox and calendar features more seamless with its AirBnB Trips. These features address the previous complaints on managing bookings and responding to inquiries, making it difficult to maintain the sought-after 100% Host Response Rate.
Co-founder Brian Chesky says, "The whole idea is that you can immerse yourself in local communities." He then gives an example, suppose a traveler wants to visit Nelson Mandela's prison cell. With AirBnB Trips, he/she can book a guided tour with a former prison guard who watched over Mandela.
Chesky adds that the catch with AirBnB Trips is that it's not as easy for any host to put up a local tour that travelers can book for. The company builds the concept, curates from there, and handpicks hosts that they deem as best suited for those tours. "It won't be a free-for-all," he says.
As of last Thursday's launch, it was revealed that Trips has been a project for the past four years. As of now, there are 500 local experiences being curated in the 12 most visited cities on AirBnB: London, Miami, Nairobi, Havana, Florence, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Detroit, Seoul, Paris and Cape Town.