As a frequent business traveler, I often get to take advantage of some of the perks that come along with being a “regular” on a particular airline, or at a certain hotel chain. But when I travel for pleasure, I don’t like staying in hotels. My boyfriend is also a frequent business traveler, but he likes cashing in his hard-earned points for free rooms. Now, I can’t really argue with free – and who wants to argue when it comes to vacation – so we usually stay in hotels. But even for him, it’s as much about the free as it is about the consistency. There is some risk to an Airbnb. Will it really look like the photos? What do you do if you arrive weary, middle of the night, and the place is a dump? Will the WiFi work? What if we show up and it’s a vacant lot? To him, the unknowns are not worth the risk.
photo credit: Terrain.org
So, since I met my boyfriend, I have not stayed in an Airbnb, and I do kind of miss it. I like having a little kitchen to make coffee in the morning, or access to laundry facilities, and I like having some room to store my bike. I usually travel places where I can incorporate cycling into my sightseeing. And, staying at a hotel feels a bit like work somehow. Mostly, though, I kind of like pretending I’m a “local” in whatever place I am visiting.
photo credit: IMDb
So, I was excited to learn last week that Airbnb announced that they will be launching tiers that are aimed at higher-end customers. Travelers will be able to search for unique properties that have amenities like you might find at a luxury resort. There will also be different brackets available on Airbnb, to help categorize the kind of space; vacation home, unique space, B&B and Boutique.
The Airbnb Plus tier will include homes that have been “verified” for quality and comfort, against an Airbnb checklist. The highest tier, Beyond by Airbnb, is built around the idea of custom trips, unique one of a kind experiences, that, ideally, even hotels cannot offer. The idea is that the traveler gets to search deeper for something more specifically tailored for what they are looking for. The property owner gets to feature what is unique about their home, and cater to the desires of prospective customers.
Photo credit: Airbnb.com
It remains to be seen, of course, if this move is successful for Airbnb, who just lost their CFO Laurence Tosi earlier this month, after reported tensions between Tosi and CEO Brian Chesky. Airbnb has had about 300 million guests stay in their properties over the 10 years since it was founded by Chesky – who started the company when he rented air mattresses in his San Francisco flat to three strangers.
Here is a clip of Chesky talking more about the new Experiences concept:
The recent moves by Airbnb make me want to give them another try on my next vacation. Chesky claims that 73% of travelers surveyed are willing to pay more to stay at a home that is verified. I’m hoping the 100+ point checklist that each verified property has to pass is enough to convince my boyfriend to give Airbnb a try. Even if I don’t speak much French, I’m sure no one will know I am not actually a Parisian if I have ‘my own’ flat!