Airbnb now wants to be your room provider AND travel agent

The tech giant first conquered the hotel industry, now it’s taking on travel agencies with its new service called Airbnb Trips.

At the Airbnb Open conference in Los Angeles last month, CEO Brian Chesky announced that apart from renting out rooms, the company will now be curating full-trip experiences, offering itineraries that are more immersive and authentic.

“The problem [for travelers in a new city] is it’s really hard to meet anybody who lives there,” said Chesky. “How do you immerse in a local community?”

Trips features activities led by local hosts, allowing visitors to see places and do things that aren’t on most tourist agendas. Imagine finding a hidden pub in London, hunting truffles in France, or a running a marathon in Nairobi. These outings can take as long as a few hours, called single experiences, to a few days, called immersions.

The app also includes a feature called Places, which gives travelers itineraries curated by in-the-know personalities. These recommendations could range from a list of favourite restaurants by a famous food critic, to a pro surfer’s secret surfing spot.

Trips launched over 500 experiences in 12 cities, including Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, and New York. Airbnb plans on raising the number of destinations to 50 by next year.

The new features show Airbnb’s latest efforts towards becoming a holistic travel company, and not just a short-term rental place. In 2014, the company tried out the concept by offering personalised immersions of cities, for instance, a 90-minute walking tour of Paris via a local resident.

“We think travel can be magical and easy,” added Chesky. “The magic is in the people, it’s all about immersing in local communities.”