Airbnb is an online platform where travellers can find unique accommodation around the world. With more than 10 million nights booked via Airbnb worldwide, the site is a world leader in travel rentals. Travellers searching for a flat of any size on Airbnb can find very unique and cool places to stay in when exploring a destination. With its innovative idea, the website offers added value as travellers know who the owner of the accommodation is and it is very transparent containing travellers’ reviews and authentic images. Recently, Airbnb has been back in the news as they are evolving their business by letting home-owners offer tours and activities along with accommodation. This is an new approach and was at first thought of as an error by some consumers (Tnooz).
Change of business model
Airbnb still sees accommodation as a central part of their website and will continue to promote home-owners' accommodation. However, in now allowing home-owners to offer tours and activities, they will enhance travellers’ tourism experience in the destination which will lead to more satisfied travellers. This is quite an interesting step and only time will show if this additional service will pay off and really lead to an improvement of the overall tourism experience in a destination.
Airbnb is now acting as an intermediary between travellers and providers of tours and activities, meaning that there might be some issues arising from this change in services available. Tourism providers that aim to sell some of their services via Airbnb need to register as a host and sell accommodation first, and then they can add other services such as tours and attractions. However, travellers might not be protected against the problems caused if a host offers tours but is actually partnering with somebody that is not registered as a host on Airbnb. The transparency might not be in place of who is actually going to provide the service; if it’s the host or somebody external. Consumer protection and liability issues might become problems for the site.
For now, it will be interesting to monitor the developments on the website and see how successfully Airbnb can establish those added services. The travellers will decide if that is something they would like to book via the site or if they want to book tours and activities through more established sites.
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