Beyond rooms and homes: Airbnb adding tours and ac­tiv­i­ties

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Not con­tent with just rent­ing out spare rooms and va­cant homes, Airbnb is adding lo­cal tours and ac­tiv­i­ties like surf­ing lessons and pub crawls to its travel ser­vices in ma­jor cities around the world. With the new fea­tures an­nounced Thurs­day, the fast-grow­ing on­line rental com­pany is hop­ing to tap into leisure trav­el­ers’ de­sire for dis­tinc­tive “ex­pe­ri­ences” that make them feel more con­nected with the places they visit, travel in­dus­try an­a­lysts say.

The move also shows the am­bi­tions of a com­pany that’s al­ready one of the world’s fastest-grow­ing pri­vately held firms. Airbnb, which boasts mil­lions of rental list­ings around the world, has been val­ued at $30 bil­lion - though it’s run into grow­ing pains in some cities where lo­cal of­fi­cials com­plain the boom in short-term rentals is re­duc­ing long-term hous­ing for res­i­dents.

Airbnb’s new guided ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude things like surf­ing lessons or cook­ing class led by a lo­cal chef, a pub crawl through a trendy night­club dis­trict or even a truf­fle hunt in Tus­cany. The com­pany has been test­ing the ser­vices in a few cities over the last year, en­list­ing lo­cal hosts as guides. It’s ex­pand­ing to 12 cities, while promis­ing 50 by next year. “They want to be viewed as more of a travel com­pany and not just an al­ter­na­tive lodg­ing firm,” said Henry Harteveldt, an an­a­lyst with At­mos­phere Re­search. “Our re­search shows trav­el­ers spend as much as 60 per­cent of their travel bud­get at their des­ti­na­tion. So they want to tap into that very large rev­enue stream.”

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