Airbnb plans to spread its wings into air travel, pitching the home-rental startup against the likes of Expedia, Skyscanner and Google.
At least that’s according to Bloomberg, which claims the new flights service is still in the early stages of development but could be launched within the next 18 months.
Airbnb has not yet responded to a request for more information from Telegraph Travel, which understands the new platform is called simply Flights.
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Existing flight booking sites will no doubt be nervous of a move into the airspace by Airbnb. Since launching in 2008 the company has caused significant disruption to the hotel industry; valued at $30 billion Airbnb is now estimated to be worth 30 per cent more than Hilton, the world’s largest hotel company.
Nevertheless, the competition remains bullish. Steve Hafner, chief executive officer at flight search website, Kayak, reminded delegates at a conference last month that many accommodation companies have made unsuccessful bids to break into the competitive flight search market.
“I’m not really worried about Airbnb getting into flights,” he said.
Airbnb’s move into air space should not come as a huge surprise. Last month the company set out its ambitions to be a bigger player in the travel industry with the launch of Trips, which allows users to book “immersive” travel experiences with locals, including violin making in Paris and marathon running in Kenya.
But the expansion doesn’t stop with tours. Trips also includes themed “insider” destination guides, immersive audio walks and interactive GPS maps of nearby bars, restaurants and points of interest.
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Airbnb also announced an imminent move into other services, including car rental, as well as the launch of a new travel magazine.
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“Until now, Airbnb has been about homes,” said Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, at a press conference last month.
“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.”
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