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Travel Tech

AirBnB has received recently $500m additional funding, which opens up new leeway for innovating and developing new business areas. One of the initiatives, which has been tested last week (Wall Street Journal), dives into the core businesses of (online) travel agents: Providing recommendations for rentals.

THE NEW FEATURE

People, who were using the mobile app of AiBnB in the San Francisco area on Thursday last week, were presented with recommendations for rentals around Lake Tahoe and other nearby getaways. Following Surabhi Gupta, an AirBnB software engineer, this new feature is the first step towards developing a more substantial capacity to support tourists in the inspiration and discovery phase, thereby moving away from purely converting customers in the planning stage. AirBnB hopes that this strategic extension of their business model will help diversifying the company, and ultimately drive more bookings. A move which could increase the pressure on online travel agencies.

NEW RECOMMENDATION ENGINE

The new recommendation engine will learn users’ preferences for destination choice and type of accommodation. In turn, this will enable AirBnB to provide personalised and more targeted recommendations, which will help users also during the inspiration and exploration phase. Until now, the recommendation functionality of AirBnB has been based solely on users, who looked at the same or similar properties.

INNOVATION BOOST

The funding and new innovations are being rolled out in a time, when AirBnB faces allegations by several cities around the world, that people are using the platform to illegally rent out their apartments. The city of Amsterdam recently changed the tourism law, adding a new category of accommodation, which effectively represents the first legal framework for renting apartments on AirBnB.

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