Airbnb is moving beyond accommodation for the first time by adding a ‘Trips’ element for travellers.
It also signaled its intention to become a full-service travel company by adding other travel products like flights, restaurant bookings and car hire.
The San Francisco-based internet giant made the announcement, which will see it compete head on with the giants of the online travel sector like Expedia, at this week’s Phocuswright conference in Los Angeles.
Already valued at $30 billion, Airbnb described the news as the biggest in is eight year history, and confirmed it was looking to complete an IPO of shares “as soon as possible”.
Trips covers three key areas – experiences, places and homes – with flights and services to be added in the future.
With Trips, Airbnb aims to make it easy with one app to book most travel needs.
A new trip itinerary feature brings together everything the traveller needs to know into one simple timeline, with the ability to book and add experiences or things to do, according to the company.
“Airbnb’s vision is to ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip, making it both easy and magical from start to finish,” it said.
The new initiative launches with around 500 experiences in 12 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul.
Hosts in these and a further 39 cities worldwide can request to list their experience with Airbnb.
A total of 100 “Insider Guidebooks” will initially be available in six cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul.
More than one million individual recommendations worldwide of places to visit from Airbnb’s home hosts will also be available.
An exclusive partnership with Detour will offer users access to audio walking tours of Los Angeles with San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul to follow by next spring.
Airbnb currently provides three million homes to book in 191 countries.
Chief executive Brian Chesky said: “Until now, Airbnb has been about homes.
“Today, Airbnb is launching Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place.
“We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip.”