Airbnb's New Service Will Change the Way You Travel Forever

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Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

If you’ve traveled—domestically or abroad—the meticulous process of researching what to do can be staggering at times. Clicking into the most highly-rated tourist locations on your Google Search page can be annoyingly ambiguous and mere generalizations of the overall experience. What differentiates a memorable experience from a bland trip lies in knowledge and proper planning. In order to make this easier, Airbnb wants to whittle the generic travel gossip into more targeted recommendations for things to do.

After years of planning, Airbnb is now expanding beyond the simple experience of booking a place to stay—shifting part of the responsibility of figuring out what to do in those places to its local hosts instead.

This week, CEO Brian Chesky finally gave us a concrete idea of exactly what Airbnb's holistic future, and what on-demand travel, will look like. Chesky took to the stage at the company's "Open" event in L.A. to reveal the new comprehensive travel venture: an extension of the Airbnb rental service that strives to hand you the local experience (all with a click of a button).

In addition to booking places to stay, hosts and locals can now offer personal tours, events, and other hands-on experiences. As the name so implies, users can find this in the new “experiences” feature in the Airbnb app, where they will be shown a movie-style trailer so they can see exactly what you’re signing up for.

The new experience category will include single short events and longer multi-day "Immersions." Each trip is searchable by city and theme, depending on what your passion may be. Essentially, Airbnb users can handcraft these experiences—which in the app are displayed through a sort of carousel of cinematic posters—and sell them. Most of the experiences cost under $200, and example excursions span from couture dress designing to local food tasting.

This also offers hosts the ability to make money beyond simply listing their homes—or even in lieu of that. With the at-home gig economy increasingly growing through programs such as Uber and Airbnb, this presents a new way for proud locals to generate some additional cash on the side.

And it doesn’t end there. Another addition to the revolutionized Airbnb is "places," which includes everything from audio guides created by locals to "near me now" guides. Beyond that, they are now trying to capture the complete trip experience down to cuisine; users can directly book restaurant reservations through Airbnb. The experience fuses Trip-advisor's guide elements and Google's advice on when the spot is most busy so users can select the most optimal choice for them.

If you want to review everything your future trip has in store, you’ll be able to browse your previous trips in the form of a timeline. When everything is booked, the reservation goes into a itinerary—places, experiences or rendezvouses—and all you have to do is check your phone as to what to do next.

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Chesky also hinted that Airbnb's future will include flight booking and "services," but didn't spare any more details on stage.

According to Airbnb, the ultimate goal is to offer travelers guidance on what they are supposed to do when they get to their final destination. This gives the rapidly growing company a way to expand the overall scope of the company to one where it not only competes with hotels, but also controls the fate of the tourism agency in general.

While this service has been in beta since June, the changes are currently live. The new sections are available on Airbnb now, but only 12 cities will have the experiences at its initial launch. Currently, these cities include Detroit, London, Paris, Nairobi, La Habana, San Francisco, Cape Town, Firenze, Miami, Seoul, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Chesky says over 50 cities are scheduled to be available next year, with the goal to have global coverage eventually.

“The magic is, and always will be, in the people. If you have a passion, if you have an interest, if you have a hobby, you can share your community with others in the world,” said Chesky. “Because you see, travel has never really been about where you go, it’s about who you become. And this is something we would love to build together, so we invite you to join us in this adventure.”

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