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05.24.17 | 12:53 pm

Take two: Airbnb launches another travel magazine

Airbnb has launched a new magazine in collaboration with Hearst that will appear on newsstands soon. It is Airbnb's first attempt at printed content since the failure of Pineapple—and round two might not be any easier. Between 2014 and 2015, travel magazine readership in the U.S. slipped by 3%, according to Statista. Hearst hopes that Airbnb can reinvigorate travel magazines much the way it has done so for the travel and lodging industry. Hearst's Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles said in a statement, "By partnering with Airbnb, we are able to serve their global community and provide readers with the most inspiring and most real-life travel stories, experiences and tips." Which may means she thinks there's a ready readership Hearst can tap into. For Airbnb, getting a magazine placed on the coffee tables of the homes on its platform can only help create a complete experience for their users. Subscribers can get six issues of the magazine for $15.

05.15.17 | 10:00 am

Airbnb will now make recommendations based on where you are in your trip-planning process

Airbnb users in a few select cities today will start to get experience suggestions relevant to where they are in their trip-planning process. Under the app's "For You" tab, Airbnb will now show travelers currently on holiday what they can do that's near them. If the person is still a few weeks out from the start of their trip, Airbnb will show them experiences they can sign up for in advance. For now, the new personal recommendation features will only be available to travelers and trip planners in Barcelona, Cape Town, Florence, Los Angeles, London, Miami, Paris, Tokyo, and San Francisco. The test is yet another exploration into how Airbnb can be an ever-present travel guide, constantly adding itineraries to a person's trip, rather than a mere accommodation booking tool.

04.28.17 | 10:43 am

Airbnb has a new plan to lure more business travelers

Today Airbnb said it will launch a new search filter to surface accommodations for business travelers. Listings categorized as "business" promise Wi-Fi and a desk—or other workspace accoutrements like toiletries—that you would ordinarily find at hotels. The new filter launches Monday. 

Already Airbnb offers 150,000 business-ready homes. It also says that 250,000 companies use the site to book stays for jet-setting workers. Though Airbnb mostly caters to vacationers right now, it is increasingly positioning itself as more than just a cheap and quirky option for traveling on a budget. This year it bought Luxury Retreats to grow its upscale listings. Now it's targeting business travelers, making it a creeping concern for traditional hotels. 

04.17.17 | 11:30 am

Airbnb’s “Big Hotel” critics may be acting out of self-interest, but their concerns are legitimate

According to a new report in the New York Timesthe hotel industry has a grand plan to disrupt Airbnb's business, and it's been pretty effective. Recent accomplishments include prompting senators to call for an FTC investigation and lobbying New York lawmakers to impose steep fines on Airbnb hosts that flout short-term housing laws.

The Times report plays nicely into Airbnb's narrative that "Big Hotel" is the engine behind its fiercest critics. But while the hotel industry is certainly acting out of competitive fear, that doesn't mean the questions it's raising aren't legitimate. We should be asking how Airbnb ensures the safety of its users. And we should continue to track its effects on housing markets in cities like New York and Los Angeles. 

Yes, the majority of Airbnb hosts may be using the platform legitimately, but we don't know what effect even a small group of bad actors can have local housing markets, especially those with low vacancy rates. The hotel industry may have ulterior motives, but prompting regulators to consider the effects of a new type of industry—one that's growing as quickly as home-sharing—isn't such a bad thing.   

[Source photo: Flickr user Jonathan Haeber]

04.04.17 | 7:25 am

Check out Airbnb’s ad supporting same-sex marriage equality in Australia

The campaign calls for people to wear the "acceptance ring" until same-sex marriage is legalized in Australia, reports Business Insider.

03.22.17 | 1:25 pm

Airbnb says it already has more than 800 “Experiences” available

Last November Airbnb launched Experiences, a new way to book things like walking tours and cooking classes in places where you're traveling, or even in your hometown. Originally available only on mobile, the service started rolling out to Airbnb's web users today. The home-sharing company also shared a few details about how the feature is going so far.

Airbnb currently has more than 800 different Experiences available in the platform, which have been booked by users in more than 73 countries. Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Paris are the top-booked destinations on the platform, and London, L.A., and San Francisco have the most Experience hosts available. Airbnb says the service is a hit with around 91% of people who have booked an Experience giving it a five-star rating.

03.22.17 | 6:39 am

Airbnb has a new name in China: Aibiying

The rebranding is part of an effort to woo Chinese users as it doubles down in the country. Translated, "Aibiying" (爱彼迎) means "welcome each other with love." In addition to the name change, Airbnb (sorry, Aibiying) will bring its Trips experiences to the country, will triple the size of its Chinese workforce, and will double its investment in the local market, the company said in a blog post

Image: Airbnb

03.14.17 | 2:56 pm

Uber and Airbnb have a big data advantage—here’s how they use it

Sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb collect a lot of data, meaning they know a lot more about their markets than their customers do, researchers argue. I talked to experts about this imbalance of information, and what regulators can do to make the sharing economy more of a level playing field. Check out my story on Fast Company here.

02.23.17 | 11:24 am

Is Airbnb on an acquisition spree?

Late yesterday Airbnb closed on its acquisition of Tilt, a fintech startup for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer payments. Last week, it bought Canadian company Luxury Rentals and its portfolio of high-end properties. 

Those deals, along with Airbnb's recent foray into travel experiences with the launch of tour service Trips, point to the company's broadening ambitions. No longer content to offer accommodation alone, Airbnb is evolving into a full-fledged travel platform.

Will the acquisitions continue? Certainly Airbnb has the cash to make deals happen, projecting annual profits of $3 billion by 2020. We expect CEO Brian Chesky to be opportunistic about deals, while continuing to build new product features in-house.

[Photo: Airbnb] 

02.17.17 | 12:10 pm

Airbnb blasts “Big Hotel” for contradictory tax lobbying 

Airbnb is fighting back against the hotel industry with a new marketing effort. On its Airbnb Citizen's blog, the home-sharing unicorn now details the ways in which the hotel industry has contradicted itself by asking for Airbnb and its users to be taxed more heavily—only to then lobby against efforts to tax its own industry. Lobbyists for the hotel industry see proposals to tax Airbnb as legitimizing what they consider to be an illegal hotel business. 

The post is an effort to make Airbnb look like an underdog against Big Hotel. The reality, of course, is that Airbnb itself, estimated to be a $30 billion company, is one of the big guys too. It's also worth remembering that Airbnb has seriously ramped up its lobbying efforts of late, spending nearly half a million dollars on lobbying in 2016, almost double what it spent the year before.

02.16.17 | 3:19 pm

Airbnb officially acquires Canadian company Luxury Retreats

Airbnb said today it will acquire Montreal-based Luxury Retreats (a purchase that was rumored to be in the works). 

The acquisition is significant because it indicates Airbnb's interest in being more than just a site for affordable accommodations. Luxury Retreats offers fancy villas and homes that are used purely as getaways (not everyone likes staying in someone else's home). We already knew Airbnb wants to expand into a broader travel platform, but the Luxury Retreats buy shows it wants to make an up-market move a priority. Airbnb didn't disclose the terms of the deal, but it's rumored to be its biggest acquisition to date. 

02.15.17 | 9:22 am

Airbnb expects to generate $3.5 billion a year by 2020

Home rental unicorn Airbnb could be earning as much as $3.5 billion annually in the next three years, sources tell Forbes. Here are two extra tidbits from the report:

Airbnb spends shockingly little on overhead: no more than $300 million in total since it kicked up operations nine years ago.

• Airbnb earned $100 million in profit on $1.7 billion revenue last year. 

Read the full report here