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Airbnb wants to offer travelers more than a place to sleep

Engadget Engadget 19/09/2016 Nathan Ingraham

Airbnb has been taking tentative steps towards being more than just a vacation rental service -- the company has shown some ambitions to plan entire trips for its users. Today, the company acquired Trip4Real, a travel-focused startup from Barcelona that Airbnb had already been partnering with. It's a move that should help Airbnb expand on its ambitions to offer travelers more and more things to do in their cities of choice. Trip4Real's business was built on offering activities in cities around the world; the company's slogan of "experience a city like a local" sounds like the same message Airbnb has been pushing for some time now.

Trip4Real, which had already been partnering with Airbnb, promised "thousands" of experiences that were "made by locals" in a variety of cities around the world as a way of helping travelers find things off the beaten path. And that's something Airbnb has been keen on offering its users lately -- when it launched redesigned apps earlier this year, CEO Brian Chesky said the company wanted to include locally-sourced info about neighborhoods to help travelers avoid cookie-cutter, "drive-by tourism."

For nearly a year now, Airbnb has shown signs of wanting to use such information to plan entire trips for its users rather than just book them a room or apartment in a city. Last October, the company started testing Journeys, a way to pick a city and let the company book accommodations and pair that with meals, transportation and a local host to show you around town. And just last month, an Airbnb Trips app popped up for Android that served as a detailed local-sourced guidebook to various locations. The app was taken down just a few days later.

Earlier this year, Chesky also teased a big announcement for November that would take the Airbnb experience "beyond the home." It's certainly looking like the company will have something to announce later this year about the next evolution of Airbnb, and it's entirely possible that we'll see some of what Trip4Real offers in that new experience.

Airbnb offered the following comment on the acquisition: "We are delighted to welcome Trip4Real to the Airbnb family. [Founder and CEO] Gloria Molins and her team share our vision of a different kind of travel experience that is local and authentic. Their experience and expertise is a great complement to our ongoing efforts to transform the way that people travel."

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