Worldwide: Airbnb will discontinue its Airbnb Plus programme, a tier of lodging that offered high-end amenities, on 6 November.
A notice posted on the Airbnb website read: “The Airbnb Plus programme will end on 6 November 2023. We will soon announce new upgrades to help your listing stand out to guests. Existing guest reservations will not be affected by the programme ending.”
Airbnb launched its Plus programme in 2018, which allowed hosts to apply to receive a ‘Plus’ classification that recognises listings with “exceptional quality, comfort and style”.
Plus was initially established to create hotel-like standards for homes, featuring annual inspections for key items and thresholds for design quality and accessibility. However, the brand, which was created to signify strong design acumen and quality standards, had seemingly been abandoned by June 2020, by which time most team members had either been laid off or reassigned to other projects.
Every host that applied for Airbnb Plus would receive a home visit from an Airbnb employee to ensure that a listing met the requirements of a 100-point checklist, and they would also have access to specific hospitality guidance. Airbnb was also keen to attract more hosts who had limited money to improve their homes and would benefit from higher booking rates as a result of joining Plus.
A statement released by Airbnb read: “In an effort to perfect our core service, Airbnb has decided to discontinue the Airbnb Plus program. Though guests will no longer see the Plus banner in their search, they will still be able to find and appreciate the unique design and positive reviews of these listings and their Hosts.
“We’re also developing new tools for hosts to help them showcase their properties and make their listings easily discoverable to potential guests, and we look forward to sharing more in our 2023 Winter Release,” it added.
It was suggested that the programme suffered from a number of key issues, from over-investment on singular ideas to prohibitive limitations on hosts and practical concerns with regards to implementation, which hit the scalability of the project. Airbnb had intended to have at least 75,000 listings on Airbnb Plus during its launch year but by January 2020, there were only 26,000 active listings, according to short-term rental data provider AirDNA.
By June 2019, Airbnb had gone a step further by introducing Airbnb Luxe, a premium tier that surpassed even Airbnb Plus in terms of luxury and exclusivity, targeting more affluent guests. The rebranding of the top tier as Luxe combined the efforts of Airbnb and Luxury Retreats [a company that Airbnb bought for $200 million in 2017] to bring customers seeking higher-end properties to the platform.
Guests booking Luxe tier properties have access to additional dedicated concierge services, including a personal ‘trip designer’ who can book everything from airport transfers and care rentals to childcare, chef and spa services, and immersive activities and experiences.
It was previously rumoured that Airbnb was looking to create a further sub-brand, similar to Airbnb Luxe, focused around creating creature comforts at home.