Airbnb has become something of a juggernaut in the travel industry. More and more travelers are forgetting (or at least trying to forget) that hotels exist at all. However, some are still looking for hotel-level accommodations even while sleeping in someone else’s home. It seems Airbnb has finally caught on to how to handle this demand.
It’s hard to believe, but Airbnb has been around for nearly a decade. The company began with two lowly inflatable mattresses on the living room floor of a San Francisco flat. Much in the same vein as Couchsurfing (a site that literally matches travelers with couches to sleep on), Airbnb’s ethos seemed indelibly set — the perfect alternative to budget hotel stays.
Today, the company boasts 4.5 million listings in more than 81,000 cities around the world. In many ways, they’ve grown up, and so have their customers who are outgrowing that pared-down, “any-bed’ll-do” style of travel. Many are now seeking all the charm and authenticity of crashing in a local home, but with all the creature comforts and modern conveniences of a traditional hotel. Enter Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb, two new services designed to, in the company’s words, make “Airbnb for everyone.”
Airbnb Plus listings will look similar to existing listings, but guarantee a higher level of service and amenities. Through a real-world visit, Airbnb employees will verify every listing in the program to ensure they pass a rigorous 100-point inspection. All will feature a minimum level of modern amenities, akin to what many expect in a mid-range or upper-mid-range hotel: fast, free Wi-Fi; plush bedding; and a well-equipped kitchen. Plus-level stays also make premium customer support available to guests. Most importantly, however, is that Plus listings aren’t necessarily more expensive — they’re just better.
The Beyond by Airbnb program, however, takes things to a whole new level. It will be the company’s most exclusive and most expensive tier of experiences. The concrete details have yet to be unveiled, but the vague promo video teases a wealth of luxurious opportunities for discerning, well-heeled travelers. This premium option will likely include stays at some of the world’s most breathtaking, Architectural Digest-worthy homes. Most stays will likely include bespoke, luxurious experiences like cooking with personal chefs, expert yoga instruction overlooking a French vineyard, or relaxing in a private, mountaintop infinity pool.
Airbnb Plus rolled out in late February and already features more than 2,000 listings in more than a dozen cities. The Beyond by Airbnb program is slated to debut in spring 2018.
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