Airbnb puts on fancy pants to attract wealthier guests

Airbnb is one step closer to becoming a full-scale travel agency. Source: Unsplash.

AIRBNB has rolled out a handful of new features on their platform, including Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb.

The new tiers are aimed at more high-end experiences for luxury-loving guests.

“Part of what we wanted to do with this launch, is reframe why people come to this platform,” Airbnb Director of Engineering Surabhi Gupta said at the keynote today.

“There are a bunch of guests that aren’t considering us today, they’ve written us off because they think ‘Airbnb doesn’t have a product for me’.”

Airbnb Plus is a higher-end version of Airbnb, targeted to guests looking for beautiful homes and exceptional hosts.

For a listing to qualify, it has to pass a 100+ point inspection. There’s also a minimum level of quality to meet such as a well-stocked kitchen, plush towels, fast WiFi, and comfortable bedding. The homes are ranked higher in search and have a dedicated section. However, hosts will need to pay a one-time fee of US$149 to apply for the program.

Nevermind fighting off competition from the hostel industry. Airbnb is inching closer to becoming a full-scale travel company.

Source: Unsplash

What’s in it for the guests?

According to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, the average price of an Airbnb Plus home is less than US$250 a night, but it comes with quality and comfort, and also premium customer support, which makes it easier for them to reach Airbnb should something go wrong.

The feature is available now, with 2,000 homes that were inspected against a thorough checklist, in 13 cities.

Beyond by Airbnb, on the other hand, offers custom experiences that include ultra-luxe accommodations as well as world-class hospitality. It’s set to roll out this Spring and is the product of Airbnb’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats. Homes that are part of Beyond by Airbnb include megahomes, mansions, and penthouses such as shoreside chalets and mountaintop castles.

To support the new additions, the company has added new ways to search for property on its platform: vacation home, unique space, B&B and boutique. The new brackets will help clean up the range of properties that already exist and encourage hosts to properly classify their homes.

In addition, there’s “Collections”,  a grouping system that categorizes homes according to occasion, for both work and play: weddings, honeymoons, group getaways, dinner parties, etc. This would help hosts to better identify and provide for their guests according to their type of travel.

Chesky said the goal of the new services is meant to make Airbnb appeal to all travelers, not just those looking for budget-friendly hotel alternatives.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are more perks up their sleeves.

The company also introduced a new “Superguest” program. If guests have been paying any attention at all, Chesky actually took to his Twitter last month to tease the announcement.

“Superguest” is basically the company’s answer to a hotel loyalty program. Similar to its “Superhost” program, it will offer rewards to top users. It’s expected to launch in full by the end of the year.

Nevermind fighting off competition from the hostel industry. With Airbnb Plus, Beyond by Airbnb, and “Superguest”, as well as the earlier addition of “Experiences”, the robust company is inching closer to becoming more like a full-scale travel company.