The new tier, called Airbnb Luxe, is designed for customers interested in spending more than $1,000 a night on thoughtfully designed, massive private homes with scenic views and top-of-the-line amenities. “Airbnb Luxe is built on the deep expertise in luxury travel Airbnb gained from its acquisition of Luxury Retreats in 2017.
It now owns last-minute hotel booking site HotelTonight, and last year it brought bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels onto the platform as part of its Airbnb Plus tier, which introduced hotel-like standardization for higher-end listings.
The shift toward travel agency-style service is part of a shift the company embarked on starting back in 2016, with the launch of Airbnb Trips, which let contractors sign up to offer everything from tour guides to cooking classes on Airbnb’s platform.
Luxe is part of Airbnb’s broader transformation into a full-service hotel and travel platform, a far cry from its couch-surfing beginnings as part of the out-of-style sharing economy that gave birth to ride-hailing services and scores of other untested startup ideas.
Airbnb says the homes must have “elevated design standards,” including incorporating the use of “premium materials & finishes and rare & unique features. ” The homes will also need to have “chef-grade appliances” and plentiful bathrooms to satisfy every bedroom.
Of course, luxury home rentals is a market that’s existed for decades, and it’s heating up with competition from traditional hotel companies like Marriott and Four Seasons, both of which want a slice of the short-term rental market.
Each Airbnb Luxe booking provides 24/7 access to a dedicated, highly trained trip designer who will ensure the stay is tailored to the traveler’s unique needs every step of the way.
It bought Luxury Retreats for a reason, and this a smart play for the company to take advantage of an untapped market occupied mainly by boutique travel agencies and service providers only accessible to wealthy individuals who know the right people.
Airbnb says that it’s seen a 60 percent increase in bookings for rentals that are more than $1,000 a night last year, but we don’t know if that’s a 60 percent increase on 100 bookings or 1,000 or 10,000.