Airbnb builds on luxury travel offering with “Luxe” tier

Worldwide: Airbnb is rebranding its top accommodation tier of properties as Airbnb Luxe, which will cater to the luxury rental market and target more affluent guests.

The latest category of the business will feature around 2,000 high-end properties located around the world, which are supplemented by additional dedicated concierge services.

Airbnb Luxe’s launch follows on from the verging of other hospitality brands towards the luxury rental segment, such as Marriott and Four Seasons in recent weeks. In this case, Airbnb is building on its 2017 purchase of Montreal-based Luxury Retreats and launch of its “Beyond by Airbnb” category last year.

Co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, unveiled Beyond by Airbnb last February as the platform’s section for accommodating luxury properties that offer custom trip-planning services. The rebranding of the top tier as Luxe will instead be combining the efforts of its two existing brands (Airbnb and Luxury Retreats) to bring customers seeking higher-end properties to the platform.

In the newest tier, travellers will have access to a selection of Luxury Retreats’ portfolio of 5,000 properties, which have been selected according to strict design and function criteria. These include requirements for premium materials and finishes, rare and unique bold features, chef-grade appliances and the bathrooms to bedrooms ratio.

Guests booking a Luxe property will have the opportunity to access what Airbnb dubs a “trip designer”. This is essentially a Luxury Retreats employee who is on hand to book everything from airport transfers and car rentals to childcare, chef and spa services and immersive activities and experiences.

Financial transactions for the services will continue to be carried out via Airbnb’s platform, though flying arrangements will still have to be organised by the customers themselves.

Chesky told Phocuswire: “Today’s luxury traveller is craving more than just high-end accommodations; they seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination.

“With Airbnb Luxe we are applying the same approach we’ve used since we launched Airbnb more than 11 years ago – creating local, authentic and magical travel moments now in amazing places to stay – to reimagine the way people think and experience luxury travel,” he added.

As well as traditional resort and high-end leisure locations, Airbnb reports that it will add a luxury inventory in major gateway cities around the world to Luxe. This will soon accelerate as a minimum of 12 cities are being included this year, such as Milan, Paris and Austin, Texas.

Fees for Airbnb Luxe listings will vary by location, according to the firm.

The Luxe tier will be the category up from Airbnb Plus, which lists standalone homes in desirable locations that are inspected for quality and cleanliness. Since launching last February, it has grown to be available in more than 300 markets worldwide.

Airbnb is predicting luxury travel to gain increased traction over the coming years, following a 60 per cent rise in bookings of listings costing upwards of $1,000 per night in 2018.

As mentioned earlier, Airbnb is not the only major hospitality brand to envisage the emergence of such a trend.

Last week, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts announced it was expanding its rental portfolio with Four Seasons Private Retreats. The brand offers a collection of around 750 rental homes and villas in 21 locations around the world, and that figure is set to grow further with properties in Napa Valley and Los Cabos, Mexico, already firmly in the company pipeline.

Meanwhile, Marriott diversified from its core hotel demographic by launching Homes and Villas by Marriott International in April. The latest arm offers alternative accommodation with 2,000 premium and luxury rentals in over 100 destinations in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.

For more information, visit the Airbnb Luxe website here.