Celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the launch of their homesharing platform, Airbnb recently announced a number of new initiatives aimed at improving services for hosts and guests and increasing its customer base in the crowded online travel industry.
During a presentation about the app’s new features at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, Brian Chesky, a co-founder of Airbnb and the company’s CEO, said that when he and Joe Gebbia inflated three airbeds in their San Francisco apartment, they never dreamed of what Airbnb would become.
“In fact, people thought the idea that strangers would stay in each other’s homes was crazy,” Chesky said. “Today, millions of people every night do just that.”
Airbnb announced that “superhosts”—known for their fast response times, high ratings (4.8 or higher, overall), and at least 10 guest stays a year—would be eligible for 14 new and updated benefits including annual credit toward travel or a professional photography session, exclusive pricing on select Nest connected home products in available countries, and access to tax preparation support. By the fall, superhosts will receive additional benefits like access to Airbnb’s marketing partners and a custom URL (web address) to make their listings easier to find and share.
“Airbnb is one of the world’s largest accommodation platforms with 4.5 million places to stay in 81,000 cities,” a press statement about the company’s new programs said. “Over the last 10 years, Airbnb hosts earned more than $41 billion and guests have checked into an Airbnb more than 300 million times.”
The company plans to reach more than 1 billion guests per year by 2028.
During the presentation, Chesky shared the story of Pamellah, a superhost that lives in Nairobi, Kenya.
A few years ago, Pamellah, who owns a wedding business, often encountered brides that were frustrated, because family members couldn’t find housing during wedding celebrations.
Chesky said that Pamellah decided to save her money, buy a house, and post it on Airbnb.
“A few years later, 1,000 guests have stayed with Pamellah,” said Chesky. “You can imagine all of the countless friendships.”
Chesky continued: “It’s super important that we invest in our superhosts.”
Superhosts earn 22 percent more than other hosts, according to Airbnb.
Airbnb also revealed Collections, a service designed for greater customization and transparency for its guests. Collections for Social stays, Weddings, Honeymoons, Group getaways and Dinner parties will be added later this year, according to the press statement.
The homesharing platform also added a “Airbnb Plus” program “for guests looking for beautiful homes, exceptional hosts and added peace of mind.” Plus homes go through an in-person inspection that includes a 100+ point checklist.
“Airbnb Plus hosts benefit from top placement, in-home services such as design consultation and expert photography, and premium support,” a press statement about the service said.
Airbnb Plus will debut with 2000 homes in 13 cities including Los Angeles, Toronto, Milan and Shanghai.
During an interview with The New York Times, Chesky, said that those numbers would grow to include over 75,000 homes in more than 50 destinations.
In addition to the existing property types—Shared Space, Private Room and Entire Home—Airbnb will add four new property types to its platform: Vacation Home, Unique Space, B&B and Boutique.
A new “Superguest” program designed to offer benefits across a traveler’s entire trip will roll out on a trial basis this summer and to a wider audience, later this year.
CNBC reported that, “By expanding its listings and breaking out categories, Airbnb is taking a page from major hotel companies and online travel agencies that offer different brands and price points. In turn, that could expand the start-up’s customer base as it heads toward an IPO in the next few years.”
Chesky said that hosts will continue to the lead the way on the Airbnb platform.
“I am really excited to see what the next 10 years looks like,” Chesky said.