A decade after it started as a technology platform to find bed-and-breakfast stays at homes of ordinary people online, San Francisco-based Airbnb unveiled Airbnb Plus, an effort that will bring more premium listings on its network. The move will increase its revenue as Airbnb earns a small commission on stays booked through its website.
Airbnb Plus will offer homes that have been inspected and verified in person against a checklist of more than a 100 points covering cleanliness, comfort and design. For the hosts of properties listed on Airbnb Plus, the benefit would be top placement, in-home services such as design consultation, expert photography, premium support and other such features. The hosts under Airbnb Plus will need to have a rating of 4.8 or higher on a scale of 5. The company estimates that it will have 100,000 such hosts in the next couple of years.
On Thursday, at a media event to mark Airbnb’s ten year journey, Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder, Brian Chesky also unveiled a slew of new categories of accommodations that can be booked on the platform, a new service called Airbnb Collections and another new tier of bookings called Luxury.
Speaking on the occasion, Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb said that he expects a billion people to use Airbnb for travel by 2028. In the last ten years, 300 million people have used Airbnb for finding accommodation on their travels.
“Today, Airbnb is one of the world’s largest accommodation platforms with 4.5 million places to stay in 81,000 cities. Over the last 10 years, Airbnb hosts have earned more than $41 billion,” he added.
Airbnb is already popular in India with over a million Indians having already used it to book international lodging since its launch. India is also amongst the fastest growing markets with the number of local hosts jumping to 30,000 from just 5,000 two years ago.
Last year Chesky had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising to have 50,000 hostpreneurs or hosts offering their homes on the Airbnb platform in India. As travel and tourism accounts for more than 10% of the global economy, the Indian government has laid a special focus on tourism.
In an exclusive interview to Fortune India, co-founder Nate Blecharczyk said, “Complexity comes with scale and since we have more than 4.5 million listings, we are trying to simplify navigating choices with our new structure.”
The new categories of accommodations launched on Thursday includes, vacation homes, unique, B&B and Boutique. So far, three categories were available — entire home, private room and shared space. Some of the new types of properties available on the site are essentially a re-classification old listings, but Chesky said the move will simplify search to suit the many needs of guests.
Through Airbnb Collections, listings would be grouped and offered under Airbnb for Family and Airbnb for Work initially. Later this year, collections for social stays, weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and dinner parties will be added to the list.
While Airbnb Plus was one of the new tiers of listing that was launched, another one was Luxury. The launch of the new tier which will offer custom designed trips at some of the world’s finest homes, custom experiences and high-end hospitality comes a year after Airbnb’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats.
Besides the new launches, Airbnb will also invest to offer more to its community of hosts and guests. “Through its Superhost program, which now includes 400,000 hosts globally, Airbnb already recognizes its most loved hosts. Today it announces an expansion of the program to offer 14 new and updated benefits including better exposure, custom urls and exclusive benefits on smart home products,” an official statement said.
“Later this year, Airbnb will also recognize its best guests with a new guest membership program offering benefits across the entire trip. Superguest will launch initially to 10,000 guests as a trial this summer before being rolled out to Airbnb’s wider guest community before the end of the year,” the statement added.
(The writer is in San Francisco on an invitation from Airbnb Inc.)