#TravelTrends: Airbnb launches new products to highlight its 'super' listings

2018-02-23 10:06 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Marking its ten-year anniversary, Airbnb has announced that it wants to host 1 billion annual guests by 2028, and their latest collections of product features may help them do just that.

During an unveiling event on Thursday, 22 February, the company’s CEO Brian Chesky revealed a list of products and features, including tools designed to help travellers better navigate the website and app - as well as a new verified home program.

The roadmap plan includes new property types, new tiers, Airbnb Collections and new community recognition features - adding SuperGuests to SuperHosts - as the key elements of a product and innovation plan designed “to bring the benefits of local and authentic travel to everyone.”

According to online hospitality service, over the last 10 years, Airbnb hosts earned more than $41bn (about R478bn. at R11.67/$) and guests have checked into an Airbnb more than 300 million times.

“Ten years ago we never dreamed of what Airbnb could become. In fact, people thought the idea that strangers would stay in each other’s homes was crazy," says Chesky. "Today, millions of people every night do just that. But we want to go further by supporting and expanding our community so that in 10 years time, more than 1 billion people per year will experience the benefits of magical travel on Airbnb.”

ALSO SEE: Airbnb 'to spend $100k to promote shithole' countries after Trump controversy

Earlier this year, Chesky outlined the company’s purpose in an open letter and in that letter he wrote that "we should be able to offer more than people sleeping in one another’s homes. We imagine a world where every one of us can belong anywhere. A world where you can go to any community and someone says, 'Welcome home.' Where home isn’t just a house, but anywhere you belong.

"Where every city is a village, every block a community, and every kitchen table a conversation. In this world, we can be anything we want. This is the magical world of Airbnb. We will probably never fully realize this vision, but we will die trying." - See the full open letter here

As it looks to the next 10 years and the continued success of its host community, Airbnb's new features include the following

New Property Categories

In addition to the Entire Home, Private Room and Shared Space core property types that are already on the platform, users will now be able to choose from properties that are listed as Vacation Home, Unique, B&B or Boutique. 

The company has long featured everything from treehouses to castles, but the expanded property type feature will make it easier to locate your ideal accommodations. 

“These are to recognize the wide variety of types we already have on Airbnb,” says Chesky, adding that users will now be able to get specific about the home they’re looking for. 

On the hunt for a roomy, dome-shaped home with modern design? You’ll now be able to find it in mere seconds. The B&B and Boutique offerings are partnerships with independent hotels that allow users to find rooms at intimate properties.

SEE: Airbnb's new payment feature to make group bookings a lot easier

Airbnb Collections

Airbnb Collections will feature homes designed to accommodate varying interests and occasions. 

From families that require accommodations with baby cribs to professionals travelling for work, the Collections feature will help travellers identify the properties that are best suited for their travel situation.

Collections featuring properties suitable for weddings, parties, group trips and honeymoons will roll out later this year.

ALSO SEE: Airbnb's new payment feature allows guests to spread cost over two instalments 

New Tiers - Airbnb Plus

There are new tiers added to the platform to identify the best hosts, which will now be listed as Airbnb Plus. 

More than 2 000 homes across 13 cities - Cape Town included -  have been inspected by Airbnb staffers and verified in person using a 100-point checklist to qualify for Airbnb Plus, and hosts with the distinction receive better website placement, access to design consultations and professional photography. 

Guests at Plus properties now have access to newly implemented premium support services.

ALSO SEE: Airbnb: Everyone wants to come stay in Cape Town

New Tiers – Luxury

After acquiring Luxury Retreats, Airbnb was tasked with finding a way to incorporate luxurious home listings and experiences onto the platform. That’s where Beyond By Airbnb comes in. 

Expected to be released in the next couple of months, Beyond will be the best way for users to locate the most lavish mansions, castles and villas in the world, and will feature the finest custom designed experiences that money can buy.

In addition to the revamped property offerings, the company says it will be restructuring the SuperHost program to better support and highlight local hosts and will be providing incentives to host that go above and beyond for guests.

On the user side, a SuperGuest membership program, similar to a hotel loyalty rewards program, will be introduced later this year to a select number of users who will receive benefits like exclusive access to listings and experiences, deals on housing, transportation and discounts on products. No details on the criteria on being a super-guest have been released as yet. 

ALSO SEE: INFOGRAPHIC: Airbnb adventure trends for 2018

NOTE: Many of the new products will be rolled out later this year, but users can give Airbnb Plus a try now.

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