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Airbnb will reward best guests and hosts, and inspect top-tier homes

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Airbnb’s press conference reveals a grab at more upscale travel. Photo: Courtesy

Airbnb appears to be turning a new focus to luxury.

The home-rental company on Thursday presented new options in an attempt to attract a more affluent — and demanding — customer base.

CEO Brian Chesky unveiled Airbnb Plus, offering 2,000 “insanely nice” homes in 13 cities including Mexico City.

The homes on the new Airbnb Plus section are verified via a 100-point inspection, which checks everything from the home’s WiFi quality to its aesthetic design.

Chesky also announced Beyond by Airbnb, a product of the company’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats, which provides high-end stays at extravagant homes and villas in places such as Aspen and Tuscany. New search tools let travelers find homes with specific characteristics.

Guests can look specifically for vacation homes, bed and breakfast options, or “unique” residences — such as tree houses and boats. Then they can further narrow their search by requesting a home with a crib or a large kitchen, or they can choose a home tailored to their reason for travel — picking a kid-friendly house for a family trip, or a home with an office for a business trip.

Beyond by Airbnb will launch its high-end offerings this spring.

And for top-rated landlords and renters — now dubbed “Superhosts” and “Superguests” — Airbnb promises new perks.

Superhosts who will get access to perks including personalized URLs for their listings and discounts on smart-home products; 10,000 Superguests earn free airport pickup and exclusive activities.

This is the biggest shift since the November 2016 unveiling of Experiences in Los Angeles. Signaling that Airbnb was competition to more than just hotels, Chesky explained how travelers can use the platform to book exotic activities not found in any guidebook.

Over the next year, the program expanded to more than 5,000 experiences in 58 markets, including a Salsa dancing lesson in Havana and a visit to a wolf sanctuary outside of Seattle.

Experiences is growing 10 times more quickly than the initial home-sharing platform did at this stage in its growth, according to Airbnb.

Analysts called it a move to lure more users into the Airbnb community as the company continues to struggle with setbacks in many locales as governments figure how the service fits in to its systems of taxation and regulations.

Source: Bay Area News Group

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