Published: Fri, February 23, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

Airbnb launches Plus, higher-end options that have been personally inspected

Airbnb launches Plus, higher-end options that have been personally inspected

Beyond Airbnb, which stemmed from the acquisition a year ago of Luxury Retreats, will launch in coming months and offer customized "trips of a lifetime", the company said in a statement.

Marking its 10th anniversary, online accommodation giant Airbnb announced Thursday a new hotel-like tier of service, called Airbnb Plus, on its platform. This program will offer various benefits throughout your trip.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky talks about a new "Plus" program during an event Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in San Francisco.

"Every Airbnb Plus home is one-of-a-kind, thoughtfully designed, and equipped with a standard set of amenities - whether you're in a private room or have the entire place to yourself", the company said.

Accommodations in this category "have been personally verified for quality and comfort", Airbnb says, and are intended for guests seeking "beautiful homes, exceptional hosts and added peace of mind".

The company confirmed it had partnered with property developer Newgard Development Group to build a branded rental complex in Kissimmee, Florida in October 2017, which owners can let out via Airbnb for up to 180 days a year.

Chesky also introduced new categories that will allow travelers to search for homes that have specific features, such as a rustic home with a balcony that is owned by a musician.

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The company also launched two housing collections, Airbnb for Family and Airbnb for Work.

Airbnb today also introduced a new feature called Collections, which will help you narrow lodging options based on the occasion.

The news is the latest attempt by Airbnb to diversify its product offerings and transform what was once a scrappy startup into a mature company with staying power and the ability to eventually go public.

Airbnb today unveiled a Roadmap for its core Homes business. Airbnb already offers travelers tours, cooking classes, hiking trips, and other activities. Last month Airbnb appointed its first independent board member - former American Express CEO Ken Chenault. There'll be the guarantee of an in-person greeting or a lockbox or keypad for entry, and travelers will get access to a special team of Airbnb Plus customer service and the promise of swifter responses.

"We think that a company should survive to see the next century, not just the next quarter", he wrote. Earlier this month, Airbnb announced a partnership with SiteMinder, a hotel distribution platform used by more than 28,000 hotels around the world.

For example, its hometown of San Francisco put strict rules in place for short-term rentals this year to deal with what the city said were too many rental units being turned into hotel in an area in the midst of a severe housing crisis. Experiences is growing more quickly than the initial home-sharing platform did, with more than 10 times the number of bookings as homes had at this stage in its growth, according to Airbnb.

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