Airbnb’s new innovations

Airbnb has taken tourism innovation to the next level with the launch in Los Angeles yesterday of a host of exciting, new services.

Under the umbrella of the “world of trips”, CEO Brian Chesky announced multi-day or several hour-long immersive travel experiences for clients, ranging from burlesque classes to prison tours with people like Nelson Mandela’s former warder, Jack Swart.

Chesky unveiled what the company is calling the “future of travel” at Los Angeles’s Orpheum Theatre to a packed house of international journalists and cheering staffers.

Using his own history of travel as a reference, the inspiring Airbnb co-founder says the company is trying to “bring the magic back” to international travel. “Travel is not about where you go, but about who you can become,” he says, explaining the sentiment behind the two-year journey to reform the company’s groundbreaking travel app.

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The new Trips service has three prongs – experiences, places and homes – and is already available on the app. The innovations are currently live in 12 cities – Cape Town, Nairobi, Detroit, London, Paris, Havana, San Francisco, Firenze, Miami, Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

The idea is for travellers to be able to immerse themselves in experiences including violin making in Paris, marathon running in Kenya and truffle hunting in Tuscany. Experiences will be led by local experts and offer exclusive access to communities and places normally reserved only for the most experienced and adventurous travellers.

The new service will also include Social Impact Experiences, which comprise 10% of the total number of available experiences, and where non-profits will benefit from 100% of the costs charged to clients.

In Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is one such recipient with experiences including a three-day tour with former warder and Madiba’s former cook Jack Swart, who will take travellers to Robben Island and Victor Verster prison while relating tales about how Mandela transformed the way Swart viewed the world.

Under the new Places tab, the company offers Insider Guidebooks from neighbourhood insiders and local influencers who will recommend hidden gems such as running paths off the beaten track or little-known restaurants from up-and-coming chefs. In addition, through a collaboration with booking platform Resy, the app will now also offer real-time restaurant bookings.

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