Airbnb expands from accommodation, wants to become full blown travel service – launches new service in Bangkok

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Airbnb has announced it will move beyond accommodation to offer users a fully fledged travel service.

Described as the most significant development in the company’s history, Airbnb has launched a new service called Trips that enables users to book local offerings, excursions and other happenings during their stay.

“Having already transformed where people stay when they travel through people-powered hospitality, Airbnb is taking this same people-focused approach to the rest of the trip and, in doing so, providing a way for people to make money from their passions and interests”, the company said.

The new service, which has been added to the now redesigned Airbnb app, is available in a number of cities around the world including Bangkok, London, Paris, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona,Moscow and Shanghai and will spread to thousands more next year, the company said.

Making the announcement, Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky said that the new service allows travellers the opportunity to create their own personal travel itinerary whenever they want a more authentic and local experience.

“If you want to travel, you basically end up on a research project,” said Chesky. “We want to fix this.”

Using Trips, customers can book a wide range of local activities, which are probably not ordinarily found in guidebooks or on the regular tourist circuit – anything from marathon running in Kenya to Samurai lessons in Tokyo.

Chesky says the idea behind Trips is to offer “unprecedented access and deep insights into communities and places that you wouldn’t otherwise come across”

Cheksy added that flights and car rentals will also be added to Trips in the near future.

The company also confirmed that is adding a new service called Insider Guidebooks that gives users recommendations from locals on the best restaurants, bars, cafes, attractions and parks in a particular neighbourhood.

The launch of the new services comes as cities including New York, Berlin and Amsterdam are trying to limit the kind of short term rentals offered through Airbnb, which officials have said threatens to impact the growth of property markets and force out lower income residents.

In Thailand, while use of Airbnb is widespread, short term rentals of this nature contravene the Hotel Act.

Earlier this year, the Phuket News reported officials had launched a crackdown on short term rentals, writing to the owners of more than 200 condominium projects on the island warning that they could be fined up to 20,000 baht or even face up to one year in jail should they be in violation of the law.

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