Airbnb wants to sort out your entire travel itinerary way beyond home rental

by

Airbnb chief executive and co-founder Brian Chesky unveiled the new plans on stage in LA (Source: Lynsey Barber)

Airbnb wants to arrange your entire trip for you, not just find you a place to stay.

The startup has set out ambitious plans to expand beyond simply being a holiday home rental platform, to turn itself into the go-to app for people's entire holidays with the addition of local trips, meetups, restaurant bookings and more.

Airbnb Trips will offer users tailored experiences and guides in the cities people visit.

“You spend as much time planning a trip as on it,” said co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky, announcing the startup’s biggest ever product expansion.

“Homes are just a small part of it - we want to create a holistic travel experience.”

It also plans to add flights and other services such as Uber and grocery delivery in future, letting people create a comprehensive itinerary for their trips in one place.

Read more: The rise of Airbnb can't stop growing UK hotel turnover

Not only will people be able to live like a local, they will be able to do activities such as truffle hunting in Tuscany or exploring the grime music scene in London.

Around 500 curated experiences will launch in 12 countries around the world, including London, Havana, Tokyo and Los Angeles, with another 39 locations planned. Some 10 per cent of the experiences will be from non-profits, with cash going straight to them.

It will expand the number of people who can cash in on the gig economy from those owning their own home to those who have expertise to share. It’s estimated that 17m Brits already participate in the gig economy in some way.

The app will also feature local guides giving insider tips on where to go, with 100 at launch for six cities while “Meetups” will connect local businesses with travellers.

Read more: Airbnb's Nathan Blecharczyk on business trips and blockchain

The eight-year-old startup has also partnered with restaurant booking app Resy and will soon let users book reservations from within the Airbnb app.

It has also upped its verification standards; those using or creating “Experiences” will have to show official government ID such as a passport or driving license and take a selfie, which the firm said is “more robust”. The process is also being tested for hosts.

The major expansion comes ahead of a hotly tipped IPO, expected as soon as next year, for the multi-billion-dollar valued startup. It also comes as it faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, particularly in the US, amid concerns that it is affecting local housing supply.