Yesterday, after years of legal scrutiny from local governments, Airbnb pivoted. Speaking in Los Angeles, Brian Chesky, the company’s chief executive, announced Trips, a platform best described as a full-service travel agency to compete with traditional agencies and sites like Expedia.
Approved hosts can now offer “experiences” beyond mere accommodation. These range from single-day tours to multi-day “immersions.” Examples include a two-day journey into Detroit’s Motown scene, hosted by a writer and poet named Marsha, as well a three-day surf trip in southern California, hosted by dreadlocked surfer named Quinn. “Surf & sleep under the stars,” it says on his host page. “I’m a born adventurer with an extensive knowledge of L.A.’s ‘off the beaten path’ spots.”
The purpose of Trips is to expose travelers to the deeper layers of local communities, without requiring hours, maybe days, of research. “We want to reinvent the trip and we want to power it by people,” Chesky told Wired after the launch. “It’s a way to step inside these hosts worlds.”
A total of 500 experiences — ranging in price from $150 to $600 — in 12 cities were announced at the launch, and there are plans to eventually factor flights into the equation. According to Chesky, Trips has been in the works for more than four years, more than half the life of the company. A press release issued by Airbnb yesterday called Trips “the most significant development in its eight-year history.”