Skift Take

Airbnb appeared to have begun a wave of delistings for its travel experiences offerings, upsetting some operators. However, Airbnb has made it clear that it remains committed to the experiences business, with plans to boost customer awareness of the category.

Airbnb appeared to be doing a larger-than-usual purge of its travel experiences offerings from its site and app, leaving many providers of walking tours and other activities confused.

Posts about the delistings began flooding into two private industry Facebook groups on Friday, with operators sharing screenshots of the emails they received. Most of the screenshotted notices said that Airbnb would officially remove the tours on June 20 and issue cancellations and refunds for guests who booked beyond that date.

A spokesperson told Skift on Saturday that the company regularly evaluates listings.

“We regularly evaluate Experiences based on the host’s expertise, the activity’s uniqueness and local relevance, and guests’ ratings and reviews, and remove those that continue to provide low quality experiences,” the spokesperson said.

Quality control or strategic tweak?

Activity in a private industry Facebook group suggested Airbnb may be doing a purge of an unknown number of listings that’s greater than its usual spot quality control.

If true, such a purge would still leave Airbnb listing tens of thousands of travel experiences worldwide as a complement to its flagship home-sharing listings.

The messages to operators, which came from Airbnb Support, didn’t state a specific reason but referenced that each given experience “does not meet our standards.” 

Staying the course

Airbnb remained committed to the experiences category, according to comments made in its recent quarterly earnings call.

The company’s recent launch of a product called “Icons,” positioned as extraordinary experiences, suggested its commitment to expanding its brand beyond just a place to stay. As CEO Brian Chesky noted, Icons is a brand investment, paving the way for future experience offerings.

However, Airbnb does appear to have been making ongoing strategic shifts in how it sells experiences. In April 2022, Airbnb’s homepage offered travelers the option to choose Places to Stay, Experiences, and Online Experiences. The following month, the company removed experiences from the homepage, making them accessible only after a traveler searched for accommodation. A year later, Airbnb said it would pause new submissions on its experiences platform.

Yet Chesky’s comments earlier this month about the company’s new “icons” offering voiced support for the experiences category.

“What we want to do in addition to bringing back experiences… is we want to expand Airbnb’s brand positioning to include more than just a place to stay,” Chesky said. “People are now starting to think about us for experiences. So I think we’ve really paved the way for next year.”

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Tags: airbnb, experiences, online travel newsletter, tour operators, tourism

Photo credit: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, on May 2nd, dressing media at its product updates launch.

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