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Airbnb’s massive expansion will challenge existing travel services

By Brindaalakshmi K and Nikhil Pahwa Airbnb is expanding across the travel sector, and will no longer be just a BnB and hotel aggregator: the company has launched Trips, which will offer customers tours and activities, and plans to add flights and services in the future. This reminds of what Cleartrip was attempting in India, when it expanded beyond ticketing to include activities). With this shift, because it combines pretty much what most travelers intend to do, threatens existing travel service providers, because it means that it now starts aggregating more than just hotels, including tours, experiences, flights, trip recommendations, booking restaurants. All of these are in partnerships with other companies, but it appears as if they'll become the primary travel platform with this. Airbnb's Trips now has three key areas - Experiences, Places and Homes: "Experiences" allows users to book experiences designed and offered by local experts and chefs, and includes categories like arts & design, fashion, entertainment, sports, wellness, nightlife, food & drink, nature, lifestyle, history, music and business. These aren't tours, but actually working with locals in, for example, trying out new foods, painting a mural, buying a dress etc. Among the experiences are also Social Impact experiences, in collaboration with Non Profits, where 100% of the money goes to the non profits. Places: appears to be Airbnb's response to Tripadvisor. Places is essentially the digitization and aggregation of what many Airbnb hosts were already offering: local information on what one should do in their neighborhood. The company says that there are over…

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