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As if Airbnb doesn’t have enough on its plate taking on the hotel industry, the company today announced a slew of new options for its free app that go way beyond home rentals. In a presentation at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, founder Brian Chesky explained that the company is “adding the magic” back to travel by focusing on people and passions — instead of just places.
With a new platform called Trips, users can buy or sell “Experiences,” ranging from truffle hunting to surf lessons. These sessions could last for hours or days. So if you like eating in new places, you could select the “food and drink” experiences and have a local guide take you to spots you might otherwise miss. Interested in astronomy? You can sign up for the “Shooting Stars” experience with a serious telescope-wielding star gazer. Curious about Korean embroidery? Me neither, but it’s cool that you could sign up for “Stitch in Time” experience with a pro. Magic, music, acrobatics, you get the idea.
There are currently 500 experiences in 12 cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul.
Airbnb today also launched Insider guides — where local experts recommend hidden gems (stores, eateries, etc.) around the world. As of today, there are 100 Insider Guidebooks in six cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul. More are expected in the coming months.
In the same vein, Airbnb also debuted “Audio Walks” (Airbnb partnered with the company Detour to develop this feature). So if you always wanted to learn more about, say, downtown LA but didn’t know where to go, you could search for the audio walk on the subject and play it like you’d play a museum audio tour. In addition to Los Angeles, there will soon be tours of San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul.
Last but not least, Airbnb can now also book restaurant reservations, having partnered with Resy to provide this feature.
Airbnb, valued at $30 billion, is currently available in 34,000 cities and 191 countries. The new features give the the company considerably more control over the entire consumer travel experience — the home, the shops, the tours, the restaurants and (coming soon) the flights too.
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