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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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