PHOTO: An Airbnb office. (Photo via Flickr/Open Grid Scheduler)
Airbnb is expanding and finding new ways to help travelers feel more connected to the communities they visit.
The San Francisco-based home-sharing platform announced the launch of its new Trips service on Thursday, in which guests will be able to purchase tours and other experiences hosted by locals.
Trips launches with 500 experiences in a dozen different cities around the world, including London, Miami, Nairobi, Havana, Florence, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Detroit, Seoul, Paris and Cape Town.
"The whole idea is that you can immerse yourself in local communities," Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told the BBC. "We bring places to life through the people who live there."
The company will curate the experiences, Chesky said.
"We review the host's credentials, we make sure they do some test experiences, so that we can be sure people will enjoy them. It is a much higher level of quality vetting than before."
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For Airbnb, the new service represents another source of revenue at a time when several destinations are cracking down on its business.
Miami-based artist J.C. Rodriguez told the New York Times that the company will soon take a 20 percent share of the $150 per person he charges for his two-day "Behind the Art" experience.
The launch of Trips is just the beginning, though, as Airbnb aims to roll out other travel services in the near future, including car rentals and flight bookings.
This week's launch comes just over a year after Airbnb announced it would test travel packages known as Airbnb Journeys in San Francisco.