Airbnb is determined to offer something to the jet set, people who are accustomed to travelling in style. And what they’ve come up with is too perfect to ignore. Airbnb has not always had something to offer to the traveller who needs more than just a bed and a breakfast but requires luxury and comfort. Enter Airbnb Plus, which combines the comforts of home with the reliability of a hotel. It is so good in fact that it’s going to be as big a disruption to the world of luxury travel as Airbnb has been to the hotel industry as whole.
The basic premise of Airbnb Plus is simple enough: A luxury home for a luxury traveller to have a luxurious stay! But Airbnb Plus is much more than that. It is also an attempt by Airbnb to ensure the odds of their guests having a pleasant stay don’t resemble a roulette wheel. Anyone who has used Airbnb or knows people who swear by it, know that a stay with Airbnb is always a bit of risk.
Most of the time, things go swimmingly, but not always. Things often go wrong for people that Airbnb has garnered a reputation, as a not always reliable choice, particularly for a traveller with discriminating tastes. Many people prefer staying at a high-end hotel, even if it means less comfort and greater expense, simply to avoid any risks.
Airbnb Plus changes all of that. It does so not only by using upper-end homes as a hotel, but also by using a kind of verification process to ensure all the lodgings, and their owners, are up to snuff. The vetting process is rigorous. It involves an employee of Airbnb being despatched to each home for inspection to ensure it conforms to Airbnb’s exacting standards for quality and style. Not every home can make the cut. Airbnb is looking for homes that feature ‘elegant design and personal character’ and ‘are as welcoming as they are beautiful’. Airbnb has repeatedly emphasised that style counts just as much, perhaps more so, than mere cleanliness. As a result, the kind of homes that tend to make the grade are deluxe and in posh neighbourhoods of the most expensive cities; Airbnb Plus has locations in 13 cities so far.
Although all homes are unique, each home in Airbnb Plus must conform to a set of standards. The Airbnb employee inspecting each home has, it is said, a checklist with more than 100 items on it. Everything from bed linen to hangers is checked. And the checklist isn’t merely checking to see if a home has the items or not; it’s checking to see if they are high-quality materials. The bed sheets and bathroom towels, for instance, are expected to be made of premium fabrics. The inspector even looks for little details like ensuring the kitchen has a set of freshly sharpened, knives, since every home must have cooking essentials, not merely teabags and a kettle.
This verification process exists not just to guarantee cleanliness and comfort but also to ensure the home is luxurious enough for the kinds of guests Airbnb is trying to entice. As part of its efforts to make the experience consistent, like a hotel, they also require all homes to come with a set standard of amenities. For a home to qualify, it must have high-speed Wi-Fi, a TV, a bath (not just a shower), toiletry essentials (soap, shampoo, towels, etc.), a coffee maker or tea kettle, a hair dryer, and an iron. The hosts must also pass muster. All hosts must have a 4.8 rating (out of 5) to be eligible for Airbnb Plus and must have a record of accepting 95% or more of the bookings requested with no cancellations in the previous year. With all that completed, the employee then takes pictures which will be used on Airbnb’s website (ensuring that the photos are representative and not misleading).
This kind of quality control is a marked departure from Airbnb's usual style but a welcome one for classy travellers. With this set of changes, Airbnb is starting to really compete directly with luxury hotels which had previously been safe from Airbnb’s business model. All of this does come at a price though: the average cost for Airbnb Plus is double the average cost of an ordinary Airbnb. So what can guests of Airbnb Plus expect for their money? The answer: A fantastic experience!
It is of course difficult to generalise about the experience of Airbnb Plus, since every home is different. What is remarkable about Airbnb Plus, though, is how they’ve managed to capture something, which is increasingly rare in the luxury travel experience. Airbnb Plus has made where one stays as much a part of a vacation experience as where one goes. It isn’t often that one remembers fondly which hotel one stayed at when thinking of vacations past. Airbnb Plus is different. The homes listed on Airbnb Plus are as much an experience in and of themselves as the destination. Whether it is Victorian mansions with Art deco interiors located in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco or elegant Georgian townhouses in London done up in Mod style, a splendid time is guaranteed for all who stay with Airbnb Plus.
Airbnb has knocked it out of the park. Finally, luxury travellers who crave the consistency of a hotel with the comfort and familiarity of a home have the perfect option. Sleep tight is all we can say!