Home-share titan Airbnb takes aim at more upscale travelers with new categories, including premium lodging and properties for "trips of a lifetime." In one of the most significant updates since the San Francisco-based firm launched a decade ago, Airbnb added what it called "Plus" and "Beyond" lodging options along with a handful of new categories such as bed-and-breakfast, boutique and "unique space."
The new options came in Airbnb's "roadmap" described as putting the sharing economy star on a path to serving one billion guests annually by 2028. Airbnb said its Plus offerings would be inspected for comfort, cleanliness and design and were said to be "intended for guests looking for beautiful homes, exceptional hosts and added peace of mind."
The category launched with 2,000 homes in 13 cities. Beyond Airbnb, which stemmed from the acquisition last year of Luxury Retreats, will launch in coming months and offer customized "trips of a lifetime," the company said in a statement. Airbnb also unveiled a "collections" category that will offer venues for occasions ranging from work to weddings.
"Ten years ago we never dreamed of what Airbnb could become," said co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky. "In fact, people thought the idea that strangers would stay in each other's homes was crazy. Today, millions of people every night do just that."
Airbnb has grown to feature 4.5 million places to stay in 81,000 cities. Over the last 10 years, Airbnb hosts overall have earned more than $41 billion and guests have checked into Airbnb lodging more than 300 million times, according to the company. Airbnb announced key changes in its leadership team early this month and said that it won't launch a share offering in 2018.
With an estimated market value of some $30 billion, Airbnb trails only Uber among the U.S.-based venture-funded "unicorns" which have raised private capital without going to the stock markets. Like Uber, Airbnb has built a business model on allowing individuals to tap an underutilized resource -- in this case their homes -- to earn money, but has also drawn criticism for roiling real estate markets and established hotel operators.