Airbnb Tests the Waters With New Tours and ‘Experiences’


Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Airbnb
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Airbnb

Over 30 million U.S. citizens travel internationally every year, and even more travel domestically. One lodging company has changed the way that people travel. Airbnb, an eight-year-old company which allows travelers to stay in other peoples’ homes when they travel domestically and abroad, vastly decreasing the amount of money they must budget for lodging and accommodations.

While the company, by nature, encourages traveling worldwide, they want these travelers to immerse themselves into a local environment, as if they are not just visiting, but actually living in these places.

At the Airbnb Open, the company’s annual conference in Los Angeles, an addition to the company’s existing services was announced. Now, the company plans on adding insider guides and “experiences” for travelers who are exploring new cities.

“Experiences” is now offered on the Airbnb app, and displays 500 options in more than 12 cities. These experiences are immersive and community-oriented. They are offered by Airbnb hosts and can last for multiple days on end or just a few hours. Some of the experiences include meeting with Miami artists and creating custom pieces, going truffle tasting in Florence, or embarking on a Los Angeles motorcycle tour, among others. Half of these experience cost less than $200.

“Places” is another option now offered by Airbnb, which gives tips from local insiders on places to go and things to do. Some of these insiders are celebrities, like surfer Kelly Slater, who gives the inside guide on Malibu surfing, or actress Gina Rodriguez, who gives her favorite recommendations for trips to Venice Beach. Organized tours, both foreign and domestic, can also be scheduled through the app.

The company will also be spearheading a trip itinerary offer to help travelers plan their trips from start to finish. The company expects to expand its services to include flights, trains, buses, and taxi services, as well as include integrated reservation services within the Airbnb app in conjunction with Resy, a company that helps make restaurant reservations.

These initiatives are planned for launch in Airbnb’s three major markets: North America, the UK, and Australia, according to Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall.

“As Airbnb moves into becoming more of an experiential brand, so too does the marketing—we have to become much more experiential,” said Mildenhall. “What you’ll see over the coming months is much more surprising experiential-type marketing initiatives.”

The company has recently partnered with Facebook Live, which will feature six trip experiences that are dependent on the viewer’s area. For example, a viewer in Paris will see a different experience than someone in Portland, Oregon.

These changes are coming at a time when Airbnb is facing legal scrutiny in urban areas like New York and LA. Short term rentals less than 30 days are illegal in many areas. Additionally, many landlords have evicted their tenants in hopes of making money off short term rentals. Apartments that used to cost $1,200 monthly are now being rented on Airbnb for $500 per night.

These new services are expected to help the company stay afloat in areas that have tougher rental regulations.

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