Airbnb has a New Service, and it has Nothing to do with Apartments

Trips, the new feature, offers travellers more than a room.  
Travellers can now use Airbnb to book a room and look up hangouts recommended by the locals. Photo courtesy Airbnb
Travellers can now use Airbnb to book a room and look up hangouts recommended by the locals. Photo courtesy Airbnb

Airbnb, the website and mobile app, has become incredibly popular with travellers seeking accommodation on their trips abroad and within the country. Now, they want to be more than just a go-to for rentals and homestays. With Trips, a new feature in the Airbnb mobile app, they put travellers in touch with immersive local experiences, such as ramen-making classes in Tokyo or a truffle-hunting tour in Italy. It is currently available in 12 cities around the world, though none in India yet.

So what exactly does it do? Now, alongside looking up accommodation, travellers can browse through the tabs titled “Experiences” and “Places” for activities that will help them get under the skin of a new destination.

What kind of “Experiences”? They vary dramatically, from a horse riding session on a tea plantation outside Nairobi, to a fire dancing workshop in Seoul. Some take a few hours, while others are spread across days, but they are all hosted by locals.

The shorter ones are called single experiences, while those that last more than five hours are called immersions. These include a three-day typography workshop in Havana, Cuba, for instance, or a popstar makeover in the same time in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy Airbnb

Trips has listings for activities in 12 cities, including truffle-hunting sessions in Italy and swordmanship classes in Tokyo. Photo courtesy Airbnb

Look for the tiny ribbon icon next to listings: they symbolize activities that have a social impact. One such event is a photojournalism session in Miami hosted by a non-profit that tells stories about the LGBTQ community. The ribbon also indicates that the hosts—usually non-profit organizations—keep the entire tour fee; in the case of other experiences, Airbnb gets a cut.

Is it easy to navigate? Yep. You can filter the listings by duration and interest. Choose your city, dates, number of guests, and from categories like “Entertainment”, “Food and Drink”, and “Wellness”.

Cool. So what does the “Places” tab offer? “Places” taps into the knowledge of local hosts to suggest self-guided tours and local hangouts. It could be a recommendation for a lesser-known restaurant or art gallery, or a bar-hopping guide created by a mixologist picked by Airbnb. Some guides even have maps so you know how much ground you will cover.

Here too travellers can filter listings by interest. If the traveller allows Airbnb to access their location, the app throws up nearby recommendations from the host reviewers. Some cities even have listings of local meetups, and audio guides that are available.

So where can I start? For now, Trips is available in 12 cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo, and Seoul. But the goal is to cover every city in which Airbnb has a presence. Eventually, Airbnb is looking to provide flight bookings through its app.

The Trips feature is available on Airbnb apps for iOS and Android. The app is free.

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    Kamakshi Ayyar is Features Writer on National Geographic Traveller India's web team. She's partial to places by the sea and desserts in all forms. When she isn't raving about food, she's usually rambling on about the latest cosmic mysteries. She tweets as @kamakshi138.

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