Home-sharing and hospitality online marketplace Airbnb will expand into show business with a variety of new original travel shows, Reuters reported.
The plan is being heavily touted for the $31 billion company, which is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO), expected next year. Airbnb hopes the move will help distinguish it from other travel sites like Expedia and Booking.com, which offer similar services.
Chief Executive Brian Chesky is pushing the idea, the news outlet said, with the argument that creative endeavors are important for the brand. Chesky reportedly likes “big, splashy things,” according to one source.
“Brian wants to create a studio,” one of the sources said in the report. Chesky’s attitude is, “Let’s do shows. Let’s do films, because we want to be travel-everything.”
The idea has been tossed around for about three years, and includes producing or licensing a mini-series or documentary about travel featuring Airbnb guests and hosts. The company has also considered either starting its own studio or working with existing ones.
Airbnb has also worked on a TV show for Apple’s upcoming streaming service, called “Home.” The show features houses around the world and the people who live in them. One of the executive producers on the show is company VP Joe Poulin, who ran Luxury Retreats when it was acquired by Airbnb in 2017.
Last week, the company announced it had produced and developed a documentary called “Gay Chorus Deep South.” The show, which will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, shadows a San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as it tours the southeast. The company provided funding for the project.
Airbnb is reportedly considering streaming films and shows through its app, in addition to other video platforms.
Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s top policy and communications executive, said the company is looking at all of its options.
“We’re very much in the R&D phase here. It’s not just limited to video. It could be audible. It could be physical,” Lehane said. “The more we put content out there, the more you’re going to bring people to the platform.”
Lehane wants to attract customers before they go on vacation, and take away some of the unknowns about the company for travelers and Wall Street alike.