Airbnb continues to shake up San Francisco—now by selling “handcrafted” tours of the city

They won’t be this extreme.
They won’t be this extreme.
Image: Reuters/Noah Berger
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Airbnb just can’t leave San Francisco alone.

Mere days after offending the city’s residents with passive-aggressive advertisements—an episode that sent the company apologizing left and right—Airbnb is now debuting a sure-to-be-contentious service in the area.

Over the weekend, the home-rental startup began sending beta invitations to certain customers interested in visiting San Francisco, offering them “handcrafted trips” in select parts of the city. The 2- to 5-day offerings, first reported by The Next Web, range from tours of San Francisco’s historic Mission district to food-oriented excursions at the city’s trendiest restaurants. Every ”Journey”—as Airbnb calls them—comes with accommodations in a hand-picked Airbnb home and transportation from the airport.

For one person, each trip (excluding airfare) costs $500; for two, it’s $750.

One of Airbnb’s Journey offerings. (Courtesy of Airbnb/The Next Web)
One of Airbnb’s Journey offerings. (Courtesy of Airbnb/The Next Web)

Essentially, Airbnb is selling complete, prearranged experiences—the type of offerings you’d see from a vacation package company. But rather than employ traditional tour guides, the company is outsourcing the experience-leading responsibilities to contracted hosts—the local residents who already have rental listings with the company. “Here’s where you get a new perspective on it all,” the company trumpets in one of its invitations. A terms of services agreement reveals that Airbnb does not take any liability for the adventures themselves.

It’s unclear, at this point, whether Journeys will be offered beyond San Francisco. But if the feature is successful, it could help the company, which is already valued at $25 billion, edge into a new industry. The offering would also expand Airbnb’s primary home-sharing services, which are currently under scrutiny from housing authorities around the world.

The company hasn’t publicly commented on the beta service yet, beyond stating that it is “always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experiences on Airbnb.”