Airbnb attempted to try something new a little more than a year ago. The company launched what the group calls “experiences.”
Experiences are local excursions that travelers can be able to sign up for, such as surf lessons in Malibu and truffle hunting in Tuscany.
On Friday, the lodgings company said that the said experiment is working. Since the firm launched experiences in November 2016, its bookings have increased by 2,500 percent year over year. Airbnb has also extended these experiences from 12 to 60 cities across the globe. Now, the company says that it is planning to add even more cities in 2018, including in places such as Iceland, Easter Island, and Tasmania.
“We’re going to put our foot on the gas,” stated the vice president of trips of Airbnb, Joe Zadeh, at an event that was held on Friday in The Assembly, San Francisco’s community space. “This year we’re going to expand to 1,000 cities.”
The company has developed from being a website for couch surfers to having a massive online presence during the past decade. Airbnb lists approximately 4.5 million homes for rent in over 81,000 cities. However, facing regulations from various cities across the globe, along with emerging competition from hotels and travelers other companies in the travel industry, Airbnb has been required to rethink its business.
Over the last couple of years, the company has expanded from offering homes for short-term rentals to allowing travellers to book experiences and restaurant reservations. It has also partnered with major landlords in Florida and California that allow for Airbnb rentals through their buildings. Last Thursday, the company said that it is tapping into high-end clientele with the launch of Beyond by Airbnb and Airbnb Plus.
“Our company does much more than homes,” stated Brian Chesky, the co-founder, and CEO of Airbnb, on Friday. “We have trips that are magical and easy.”
Along with extending its experiences to more cities, Airbnb is also developing four new categories for the platform.
The categories include: “social dining,” where travelers who do not know each other can share a meal; “social impact” experiences with nonprofit organizations, such as learning about ocean conservation while they are surfing; “Airbnb concerts” where the travelers are able to listen to local music in small settings; and off-the-beaten-path “adventures,” which include multiday excursions such as camping in the Sahara.
“The options are endless,” Zadeh stated. “We are working with our hosts where anyone can build an experience around their passion.”