Feb 22, 2018

Airbnb wants to go mainstream

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky at a press presentation in San Francisco on Feb. 22, 2018. Photo: Airbnb

Airbnb is looking to broaden its mainstream travel appeal with a slew of new features and options on its tenth anniversary, including hotels, a loyalty program, luxury travel, and vetted higher-end bookings.

Bigger picture: It won't be this year, but Airbnb will eventually go public. So it's working to reverse the long-standing perception that its service is not for everyone, as CEO Brian Chesky said on Thursday at a press event in San Francisco.

Between the lines: Airbnb has quietly allowed certain hotels on its marketplace for years, but it's now going to highlight them more prominently, a sign of its broader aspirations as a travel business, not just a home-sharing service.

  • Still, "we would distinguish between 'mass travel' and 'healthy travel,'" Airbnb policy and communications head Chris Lehane tells Axios, emphasizing the company's focus on providing local and unique experiences to travelers.
  • And while the added variety can help with attracting different types of guests and broaden its supply of accommodations, Lehane says it's "not being driven by a supply constraint as much as the desire to supply a new type of traveler the experience they want."

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South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."