Airbnb’s ambitions to expand into the travel services market were outed ahead of plans this week, when an “Airbnb Trips” app was briefly available on the Google Play Store for download. The app which offered travelers the ability to book restaurant reservations and city tours, has since been pulled down by the company following news reports detailing its availability and feature set.
Bloomberg first reported on Airbnb Trips, which was offered as a test version to Google Play users. Having been able to access the app while it was live, Bloomberg found that it offered access to personal itineraries, including upcoming Airbnb rentals, city guides, as well as events like dining and happy hours.
The fact that Airbnb is looking to differentiate itself from the competition, like VRBO, HomeAway and others by offering city guides and other travel services is something we’ve known for some time. The company in June began testing a “City Hosts” program aimed at giving guests guided, one-of-a-kind experiences when traveling. It also rolled out a series of local Guidebooks in April with tips for dozens of cities written by power users and local hosts alike.
Airbnb has also experimented in other areas related to travel services and recommendations, including tests of an “Experience Card,” a combination prepaid and loyalty card that would also come with a map of recommendations from locals.
The highly valued company – it’s raising $850 million at a $30 billion valuation – is reaching a point where it needs to find new avenues to generate profits – such as travel services and other add-ons for its customers.
According to a report from The Information, Airbnb will debut a new program in November that will allow hosts to make money by giving tours, taking guests bar hopping, and making restaurant recommendations. The move comes at a time when Airbnb is facing increased competition, declining rates due to the growing supply of listings, and has been impacted by regulations in major metros like L.A., NY, and San Francisco aimed at limiting short-term rentals, the report also noted.
The Airbnb Trips app is also expected to launch in November, at the Airbnb conference. Given that this was only a test version that was spotted in the wild, the app and its features could change between now and then.
When asked about the Airbnb Trips app, Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas told TechCrunch: “We’re continually experimenting with new things and we don’t have anything to share right now, but we have a few exciting things in the works.”
Image credit: The Verge