To mark its tenth anniversary Airbnb has launched a curated set of properties, labelled Plus, as part of a major shake up of its short-term rentals platform.
After teasing the news in a tweet last month, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told journalists at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco: "We finally think we have a home for everyone."
Airbnb has cherry picked more than 2,000 homes across 13 countries, including London, Barcelona, Rome, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne and Shanghai.
These homes typically have high ratings (4.8+) and consistently good reviews. Airbnb has a 100-point checklist of requirements for Plus properties, such as good Wi-Fi, nice linens and bottled water.
In return, these hosts will get a Plus badge on their listing, can typically charge higher nightly rates, exclusive support, and listings will be made more prominent in search results on the site. Hosts need to pay a one-time fee of $149 (£106) to apply for the programme.
Current London Plus listings are available for as little as £44 a night for a private room in an apartment in Fitzrovia.
The company also finally announced how it will brand the collection of private, luxury properties it acquired with the $300 million purchase of Luxury Retreats last year. The new tier is called Beyond by Airbnb and will launch in the autumn.
Airbnb also announced new 'collections' for work and family. Later this year it will add collections for social stays, weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and dinner parties.
Lastly it will be adding more home categories in the coming days, expanding from 'entire place', 'private room' and 'shared room' to include vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and 'unique' homes.
Airbnb's relationship with hotels
This is another step towards Airbnb becoming a hotel distribution company, using its huge reach to also sell traditional hotel rooms. Earlier this month the company announced a deal with the hotel distribution platform SiteMinder.
Airbnb will still be looking to maintain a level of quality control over what is listed on its platform though, with a focus on smaller boutique or bed & breakfast properties. A press release announcing the new partnership said: "Guests can expect the locally influenced and unique accommodations they expect when booking an Airbnb listing."
Select properties may not be hotels per se, but they certainly will appeal more to the sort of consumer that wants the guaranteed standards and amenities that a hotel brings. Select properties could more easily be compared to traditional bed and breakfast properties, where a certain level of hospitality is expected.
In another move that aligns Airbnb with hotels, Chesky also announced a loyalty programme, set to go live this summer. Details on what the scheme will offer are light on the ground at this point though.