Some days ago, Airbnb founder Brian Chesky announced the new "Airbnb Plus" program that will be rolled out this year, starting in 13 cities.
What is it?
Airbnb basically certifies hosts that pay for an inspection where up to 100 things (it's a bit vague still) will be checked. Apart from that, Plus hosts should almost never reject guests, cancel bookings or have bad reviews. The upside for the hosts: they can increase prices. At least that's the idea.
Why do they do it?
So what they are trying to solve is a major challenge Airbnb faces, growing from a rather informal, low price couch- & apartment sharing platform to one of the biggest players in hospitality world wide: The uncertainties for guests that are inherent to the host/guest-model. It limited Airbnb to conquer the premium and luxury segment in the past.
"Will I be accepted as a guest when I fall in love with a place online? Will the host cancel the booking a couple of days later because his aunt visits and he needs the apartment for her? Will be there when I arrive at the venue? Will everything look as promised by the pictures on the platform?"
– That moments of uncertainty and adventure are fine if you are travelling on a budget. But if you are willing to spend 200 Dollars or more per night, you don't want do deal with such stuff.
Does it make sense?
Sure, on first sight it makes total sense to expand the range of Airbnb places into the premium segment where certainty & safety from unwanted surprises is a must. More options are always better.
What will change?
That certainty could turn out to be expensive for guests though: If I had to guess, it would be that Plus places will mostly not be new apartments but venues that already performed very well in the past (and did not cancel, no-show or negatively surprise you otherwise). How else would would they have the reviews & ratings making them eligible for the Plus category in the first place? So probably nothing will change with this hosts and places but their prices: they will definitely go up.
We might also see even more uniformity in the future. When somebody shows up with a 100 item checklist you have to fulfill, the guy with the checklist dictates how your place has to look like and function. While this certainly raises the standards, it also will take away from the uniqueness and charm in many cases. And wasn't that part of why you chose Airbnb over a hotel in the first place?
We will see.