"MAKE TRAVEL MAGICAL AGAIN"

You can now book tours and other ‘magical’ experiences on Airbnb

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Airbnb isn’t a home rental company anymore—it’s a travel agency.

The eight-year-old company is branching out from home and room rentals for travelers to offer them something to do when they get there. On Nov. 17 it unveiled Trips, a platform that allows guests to book tours operated by local guides, buy concert tickets, and book restaurant tables—experiences that Airbnb proclaims will “make travel magical again.”

(Courtesy Airbnb)

The startup is looking for new areas of growth to justify why it could be worth even more than its current $30 billion valuation. The company had been testing the platform —internally dubbed “Magical Trips”—for several months (paywall).

Airbnb hopes to gain a bigger economic foothold in communities, just as it faces legal challenges in several major cities.

Visiting Los Angeles? Take a few classic cars for a spin in Malibu. Jetting off to Tuscany? Spend a day truffle hunting. In Detroit, visit the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Project.

Trips currently includes 500 “experiences” in 12 cities.

It’s Airbnb’s way of doubling-down on local residentsthe lifeblood of its business—and an attempt at giving fickle travelers that elusive and lucrative quality of travel: authenticity. (Hopefully there won’t be much confusion with Google’s new travel app, also called Trips.)

Trips will also include more than 1 million recommendations on places to visit from Airbnb’s hosts and will offer city insider guides. The platform will also offer audio tours for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, London, Toyko, and Seoul, starting in early 2017.

The platform is a direct shot at some of Airbnb’s more traditional competitors. For example, Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel company, has an “Experiences Marketplace” where it allows its most loyal customers to cash in points for tickets to football games or Broadway shows.

Airbnb says it will later add flight searches to the platform—an area it has gotten closer to through airlines’ frequent flier programs and a few other gimmicks—sealing its new identity as a one-stop-shop travel agency.

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