Airbnb is planning to launch a new category that caters to wealthy travelers who'd normally favor the amenities and reliability of luxury hotels. The new tier is known internally as Airbnb Lux, although an official name is yet to be determined, and will include mega-homes, mansions and penthouses.
Airbnb is expected to invite a select group of hosts to participate in the new service. If they accept, the hosts will be visited by an inspector who will determine that the properties meet certain criteria.
According to Bloomberg, this is separate to the 'Select' tier that's currently being tested in certain markets, where meet certain service standards offering hotel-like amenities on regular houses and apartments. Airbnb Lux on the other hand is strictly for expensive, luxury properties.
The move follows Airbnb's acquisition of Luxury Retreats earlier this year, a Canadian company that listed more than 4,000 full-service villas and vacation homes.
Airbnb takes a percentage of the cost of each booking, so offering a premium selection of rentals may support revenue growth while also bringing in the sort of clientele willing to pay for its more expensive, higher margin tourism services. These represent a potentially new revenue source for the 9-year-old startup, which began as a couch-surfing website for cost-cutting travelers.
The company will start testing the new offering in some markets at the end of year.