Airbnb has suspended new Experiences submissions [Credit: Airbnb]

Airbnb shifts focus by halting new Experiences submissions

Worldwide: Airbnb has opted to put a pause on new Experiences submissions for the time being so that it can re-divert its focus towards its core platform offerings.

The news comes as something of a surprise, given that CEO Brian Chesky spoke only last May about how Experiences represented a “massive, massive opportunity” and “a big area of investment in the coming years”, promising to add “major new offerings around Airbnb Experiences” at the time.

However, the halting of new submissions will have no impact on current Experiences offerings and activities listed by local hosts.

Airbnb Experiences was launched in 2016 by long-term employee Joe Zadeh, who stepped down in 2019 and was replaced by former Disney executive Catherine Powell [now global head of hosting] at the start of 2020. Powell told STRz in a video interview last month about how she had had to pause Airbnb’s Experiences program in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, before the company pivoted to launch online Experiences through cloud-based video conferencing service Zoom.

Online Experiences included virtual date experiences with dating app Bumble, virtual activities aimed at people with accessibility needs, and a summer festival of Olympic / Paralympic online experiences and activities for the delayed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Airbnb’s Experiences program initially launched with 500 experiences before that grew to more than 40,000 experiences in  1,000+ cities in 2020.

Last year, the company brought back in-person Experiences and said that it had continued to invest in the offering to give people a “local travel experience”.

In a statement, Airbnb said: “As travel continues to recover from the pandemic and guests look to spend more on experiences again, the unique opportunity to connect through Airbnb Experiences is more important than ever. As part of our focus on perfecting the core service, including Airbnb Experiences, we are pausing submissions of all new Experiences.

“We are excited about the future of Airbnb Experiences and expect to provide more information in the coming months,” it added.

Experiences were introduced seven years ago to supplement Airbnb’s core short-term rental business that had made the company successful. The company reported in February that 88.2 million nights and experiences were booked last year in Q4, marking a 20 per cent increase on the year before.

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