Branded experiences beyond the room are all the rage this year, from Airbnb's new move, to those already taken by Hyatt with it's Unbound collection and Design Hotels' Original Experiences.
Vacation rental website Airbnb Inc. wants to own more of people’s travel experiences. The company has been testing a service for tourists to book add-on services, said Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky.
Tests have included meals prepared by personal chefs, restaurant reservations, art gallery tours, and bicycle rentals, according to people familiar with the trial. Customers will be able to book the services when they reserve a room or home rental on Airbnb, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The company expects to introduce the feature this year, said one of the people.
Airbnb refers to the project internally as “magical trips,” a person familiar with the matter said. The name evokes Walt Disney, one of Chesky’s idols. Chesky is overseeing the initiative, along with Joe Zadeh, the vice president of product, and it’s one of the company’s top priorities for the year, the person said.
“Our basic idea is: I want you to go to a city; you feel like you live there,” Chesky said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “When people go to a place, they want much more than just a home. They want to be part of a neighborhood. And what we are really focused on doing is, how can we immerse you into a neighborhood?”
Offering additional travel services could provide a lucrative new revenue stream for Airbnb. Competing travel sites give customers the option to book rental cars and other services, but Airbnb expects to offer something unique. “Tests are going really, really well,” Chesky said.
Another growth area for Airbnb is China. Business from Chinese travelers grew 700 percent last year, Chesky said.
This article was written by Emily Chang and Eric Newcomer from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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Photo credit: Airbnb's current 'experience' product includes interactions with Airbnb hosts in select markets. Airbnb / Airbnb