Everything You Need to Know About Airbnb’s New High-End Services

The launch of new services, including a rewards program and a collection of vetted homes called Airbnb Plus, reveals the sharing-economy pioneer’s play to appeal to every kind of traveler.

Everything You Need to Know About Airbnb’s New High-End Services

The “Secluded Intown Treehouse” in Atlanta, Georgia, is Airbnb’s “#1 Most Wish-Listed Property in the World.”

Courtesy of Airbnb

“Airbnb is for everyone.”

That lofty (and ambitious) statement from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky kicked off a press conference in San Francisco, during which Chesky spoke to the company’s meteoric growth over the past decade—and revealed the company’s road map for the next 10 years. Despite its success, Airbnb is still considered “alternative,” for many travelers, said Chesky. “Our mission is that everyone can belong anywhere. We still haven’t done the ‘everyone’ part—until today.”

In a bid to appeal to, well, everyone, Chesky revealed several new programs meant to improve the quality of the Airbnb experience, reward top hosts and guests—and increase Airbnb’s travel pool from 300 million annual users to 1 billion by 2028.

How exactly will it do that? And, more importantly, what does this all mean for you?

You’ll get greater quality insurance

The introduction of Airbnb Plus, a collection of more than 2,000 vetted homes in 13 cities—a list that includes Los Angeles, London, and Barcelona—is arguably one of the strongest improvements to the platform. Who hasn’t had a bum experience with the site, despite careful research? Maybe the neighbor’s backyard chickens are noisier than you’d expected, or the bath towels look like props from Animal House, or the bedroom lighting is more fitting for a big-box hardware store than a room meant for sleeping.

Airbnb Plus aims to minimize that disappointment, offering travelers assurance that what they see online is indeed what they’ll get in real life. All Plus properties are hand-selected—hosts must apply to the program or be invited by Airbnb. More notably, each selected property is vetted in-person using Airbnb’s new 100-point inspection process that covers everything from the bedding to the Wi-Fi. All Plus homes must have fully equipped bathrooms and kitchens, and “clean and comfy bedding,” said Chesky.

Once a home is vetted, the company sends in a team of professional photographers and, even better for guests, offers premium customer service to immediately resolve issues. By the end of 2018, the Airbnb Plus collection will include 75,000 homes in 50 cities around the world. Best yet? Plus homes average $250/night—not a bad price for peace of mind (and plush bath towels).

You’ll be rewarded for your loyalty

Airbnb loyalists, take note: This summer, the company will roll out a new membership program called Superguest to reward the best guests with perks that go way beyond hotel points. Details are scarce at this point, but benefits will likely include a fully stocked fridge, airport pickup, concierge service—they might even include flight deals, airport lounge access, and more. (On the flip side, the company has also rolled out more robust benefits for Superhosts.)

It’s much easier to find the home you’re looking for

For anyone who has lamented the limited filters on Airbnb, cry no more. With the launch of both Airbnb Categories and Airbnb Collections, the company makes it easy to find exactly the home you’re looking for without having to wade through thousands of listings.

You can now search using four new property types: “vacation home,” “unique space,” “B&B,” and “boutique.” The new search filters allow you to go much further, refining a search by thousands of categories, from “chef’s kitchen” to “near zoo.”

Booking a home for a specific occasion? Airbnb Collections groups homes by type of trip—say, a work trip (homes guarantee self-check-in, wicked-fast Wi-Fi, and coffee) or a family rip (homes guarantee kids’ toys, safe kitchens, and play spaces). By the end of 2018, Collections will include nine trip types, with more to come later.

You can even place your entire trip in Airbnb’s hands

Don’t want to deal with any of the above? Book a trip with Airbnb’s new Beyond program, launching this spring, which puts the company’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats to even greater use.

Trips will revolve around one of the site’s phenomenal homes, layering insider access, personal touches, and customized excursions—all curated by an expert, just for you. Airbnb has been playing around with experiences for a while, but this is the company’s first foray into curated, multiday trips that target a high-end audience.

Hotel-like quality assurance. High-end immersive trips. Rumors of expansion into flight booking. It begs the question: In 10 years, what won’t we be able to do on Airbnb?

>>Next: How to Do a Foodie Weekend in One of California’s Most Beautiful Places

Aislyn Greene is the associate director of podacsts at AFAR, where she produces the Unpacked by AFAR podcast and hosts AFAR’s Travel Tales podcast. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito.
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