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Airbnb Plus: New luxury service offers standardized, hotel-like stays

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Room-sharing giant also listing hotels and plans ultra-luxe Beyond service.

Flickr/Open Grid Scheduler

Home-sharing giant Airbnb announced a new service, Airbnb Plus, this morning, part of a long-awaited strategy announcement, as well as confirmation that the room-sharing service seeks to promote higher-quality, more hotel-like experiences.

The Plus service promotes homes that represent a higher-tier of quality, “meet a 100-plus point quality inspection” and are run by hosts “known for great reviews and attention to detail,” according to a announcement on the company’s website. Going forward, these homes will be identified with a plus badge.

Plus was part of a larger strategy announcement the company held today in San Francisco, to mark its 10th anniversary. A New York Times story noted that the service launches with 2,000 homes in 13 cities, including Toronto, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Milan, and hopes to expand to 75,000 homes in 50 cities by the end of the year. All hosts on the service will be “highly rated,” meaning they have a 4.8 or higher rating.

Each Plus home meets a 100-point quality checklist, which includes a stocked kitchen, standard amenities such as ironing boards, as well as bathrooms with toiletries and two sets of towels that are free of personal items. Hosts apply to have their spaces accepted into the program, which requires a $149 fee, and once they’re accepted, each home or room will be shot by photographers sent by the company.

Here are examples of Plus homes in Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Milan.

This guarantee comes with a higher price tag. Plus homes will cost $200 on average for one night, double the $100 nightly average across Airbnb as a whole. Hosts will also benefit from premium customer support and higher placement in search rankings.

Airbnb also announced it will be listing hotels on the site. The platform has previously listed boutique hotels and B&Bs, but this move both allows the site to offer a more all-encompassing search engine for lodging.

Additional changes will also provide users with more targeted search options. Airbnb Beyond, an ultra-luxury tier above Plus, will launch later this spring, and new category and Collections options, such as treehouses or honeymoon venues, will assist with trip planning.

Jan Freitag, senior VP for lodging insights at STR, a global consultancy focused on the hospitality industry, predicted this move, and told Curbed that it’s all part of a larger strategy for Airbnb:

Airbnb isn’t gunning for Hilton or other large chains; it’s actually becoming an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia or Priceline. After all, Airbnb charges just 3 percent commission to host, compared to the 9 to 10 percent charged by other OTAs. For a hotel owner, it’s an attractive proposition.