Airbnb launches Plus, higher-end options that have been personally inspected

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A release says the Airbnb Plus service is aimed at high-end accommodations and has launched with 2,000 homes in 13 cities - a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million properties listed on Airbnb in 81,000 cities worldwide. Rather than just booking a hotel at a luxury resort you find on TripAdvisor, Airbnb is trying to build the credibility that it can offer unique experiences you won't find in those hotel environments - whether that's a tiny apartment in the middle of Shinjuku, Japan, to a lovely condo in the middle of Ponta Delgada in the Azores. (Get your phones ready because the listings already categorized under Airbnb Plus shown at the conference today are pure Instagram gold.) Each home has been verified for cleanliness, comfort/quality and exceptional design. Following the acquisition of Luxury Retreats previous year, Beyond by Airbnb will offer custom-designed trips that include "the world's finest homes, custom experiences and world-class hospitality", said Airbnb. But we want to go further by supporting and expanding our community so that in 10 years time, more than 1 billion people per year will experience the benefits of magical travel on Airbnb. The company said collections for social stays, weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and dinner parties are coming later this year.

The Superhost program is also getting an overhaul.

Hosts and guests are the heart of Airbnb. Over the last 10 years, Airbnb hosts earned more than $41bn and guests have checked into an Airbnb more than 300 million times. Superhosts are considered Airbnb's most iconic hosts with 400,000 of them globally. In comparison, Airbnb users are generally reliant on the accuracy of the original listing and other visitors keeping that honest with their post-stay reviews. These include webinars to help build your business, additional cash bonuses for referring new hosts and, one of the more prominent additions, custom URLs for listings. The company also is adding other rental categories, including bed-and-breakfast inns and boutique hotels.

Airbnb is also shifting more focus on its guests. This program will offer various benefits throughout your trip. Hundreds of replies came back with ideas such as stocked fridges and airport pickups.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about Airbnb as Airbnb is.

Airbnb is trying to move into the mainstream.

"If Airbnb wants to enter the hoteling business, then it needs to be regulated, taxed and subject to the same safety compliances and oversight that law-abiding hotel companies adhere to each and every day", said Troy Flanagan from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which has butted heads with Airbnb for not playing by the same rules. From today, Airbnb is making tools available to hosts to categorize their listings to an unprecedented level of detail in the travel industry, not only making it possible to organize everything by these 7 core property types, but also opening the door to sophisticated search capabilities that will allow any traveler to find the host and home that's right for them.

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