eCommerce

Airbnb Moves Into Concierge Services

In an expanded attempt to compete with traditional hotels – and the host of other specialized start-ups riffing on what they do – Airbnb is leveling up the types of travel services on offer for guests that book through its platform.

Those services will include city and destination tours, dining reservations and a variety of other concierge-like additions that will help the service move from simply a place to book a room to a place where travelers can lay out an entire itinerary.

Called Airbnb Trips (for now, according to Bloomberg – internal sources say that could still change), the new service allows users to log into their itineraries that come interpolated with information about local destinations and events.  Need a happy hour? Trips has your back.  Looking for a guidebook – no need to wander away from Airbnb, there is probably one in there.

The move comes as Airbnb deals with a host of similar services borrowing its model – HomeAway and VRBO for example – and looks for ways to offer a service that is somewhat more differentiated.  Bloomberg reported in March that Airbnb was treating the initiative as a top priority for 2016.  The expanded app offering also ties into Airbnb’s newest marketing campaign – “don’t go there, live there” – which encourages users to more fully immerse themselves in the places they chose to stay.

Activity booking has the potential to be a lucrative sideline for Airbnb – Expedia, TripAdvisor and activity focused startups like Peak have all attracted investor interest of late. And investor interest is something the San Francisco sharing economy poster-firm needs at present – as it tries to justify its attempt to raise $850 million on a staggering $30 billion valuation.

The new Trips app is expected to get its official introduction to the public just in time for the holiday season in November. The initial instantiation will reportedly allow hosts to recommend restaurants to users – though rumors of the functionality have been swirling around since at least 2014.

“We’re continually experimenting with new things and we don’t have anything to share right now, but we have a few exciting things in the works,” noted Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb, in an email.

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