Airbnb is undergoing a remodel.
At the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles, CEO Brian Chesky announced Trips, which allows travelers to book activities, take guided audio tours, and get recommendations from locals using the Airbnb app.
In Chesky’s own words, “This is literally just the beginning.”
Trips signals a shift in the San Francisco company’s business model from home-sharing to one-stop travel shop. It’s a bold bet for Airbnb — one that could give travel giants like Expedia and Trip Advisor a run for their money.
The app also competes with Alphabet’s new Google Trips a handful of startups in the travel recommendation space.
To roll out Trips, Airbnb revamped its mobile app. In its current form, the new app includes three tabs — Homes, Experiences, and Places. Homes is the standard Airbnb lodging tool.
Experiences includes activities, like wine tasting or mountain biking, organized by location and interest. Airbnb collected activities for its Experiences tool from local experts in 12 cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo, and Seoul. Airbnb is currently asking hosts in Seattle and 50 other cities to contribute activities, which will roll out in the app soon.
Places includes “Insider Guidebooks” from “cultural experts and neighborhood insiders” with recommendations on bars, restaurants, outdoor activities, etc. Airbnb, in partnership with Resy, will add an in-app restaurant reservation tool next year. Places also has guided audio tours for various destinations, thanks to a deal between Airbnb and Detour.
This is the start of a radical shift for Airbnb. The company is building out what it calls the Trip Platform, which effectively will turn Airbnb into an online travel agent, a category defined by Seattle’s Expedia.
Airbnb will add flights, car rentals, and other services to the app, though the company has released few details about how that will look. Grocery delivery is one of the services Airbnb is mulling.
Although there’s some rivalry between Airbnb and Expedia — the Seattle-area travel giant owns vacation rental company HomeAway — the two haven’t been in square competition with each other. Until now.
At the GeekWire Summit in October, Airbnb board member Jeff Jordan and Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowsahi both said they expected the two companies to stay in their respective wheelhouses. Jordan didn’t think Airbnb would get into the hotel business and Khosrowshahi said Expedia wasn’t interested in listing single rooms in homes.
But hotels aren’t Expedia’s only business. The company has been doubling down on flights and Airbnb’s move into that space represents a unique new challenge.
Airbnb vs. Expedia: Top company insiders explain how the rivalry is changing
Airbnb already has a popular lodging business. The introduction of flights could siphon off travelers who use Expedia to book air travel but prefer to stay in an Airbnb over a hotel. The convenience of a single app has real appeal for the busy traveler.
With the launch of Trips, Airbnb is saying, in no uncertain terms, that it wants to “ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip, making it both easy and magical from start to finish.”