Airbnb Plus takes on high-end hotels with quality promise

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Mr Chesky says the program is available now with 2000 homes in 13 cities, providing "all the comforts of home, plus more".

10 years ago, Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia inflated 3 airbeds in their San Francisco apartment and started what has become a global phenomenon in travel.

"Airbnb Plus is intended for guests looking for attractive homes, exceptional hosts and added peace of mind", the company wrote.

Each appears to be targeting verticals within the travel space that make sense based on the typical hospitality industry, but weren't specifically singled out on Airbnb. And Airbnb, which, like most startups, has been tight-lipped about its financials in the past, has promised to provide greater transparency by releasing its first annual stakeholder report in March.

In August of past year, Chesky tweeted that Airbnb had listings for 15,000 boutique hotels, about 10 months after introducing them to the platform.

To address this, Airbnb will add 4 new property types to its platform - Vacation Home, Unique Space, B&B and Boutique. In addition to its existing Shared Space, Private Room and Entire Home categories, guests can now search by Vacation Home, Unique Space, Bed & Breakfast, and Boutique, giving hosts a total of seven categories for listings.

Additionally, the company is expanding its Superhost program with new and updated benefits, including more exposure, custom URLs for their listings and exclusive pricing on smart home devices, starting with a partnership with Nest to offer Superhosts discounted products.

"We are creating the world's largest home database", said Chesky.

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Also unveiled was Airbnb Plus, a tier of homes that provide "outstanding hospitality", according to the company. To that end, Airbnb is launching its Collections feature today.

The company is also adding new luxury tiers, Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb, in an effort to attract high net-worth customers who may have balked at the idea of staying in someone else's house.

For travelers in search of verified listings approved by people who share their needs (homes near popular hotspots) and preferences (chic décor please!), Airbnb will soon offer two new travel tiers for home listings, Airbnb Plus and Beyond Airbnb, a luxury travel tier.

Airbnb is promising users the "trip of a lifetime" with custom-designed getaways involving some of the world's most luxurious homes. The Superguest trial launches with 10,000 people this summer before being rolled out to all guests later in the year.

The launch follows calls from some Canadians for an end to short-term rentals offered in their buildings and neighbourhoods after some Airbnb users rented homes to throw unruly parties or behaved disrespectfully towards neighbours.

The expanded offering will ruffle the feathers of some corners of the travel industry, particularly as the platform will significantly undercut the commissions taken from hotels by sites such as Expedia and Booking.com.

Finally, Airbnb is launching a loyalty program for its most frequent guests with a membership program that offers as-yet unnamed benefits.

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