Travellers seeking the certainty of a comfortable bed, clutter-free spaces and lightning-fast Wi-Fi can now book a new tier of Airbnb properties which have satisfied a lengthy checklist of standards.
After running as a pilot project for two years under the name "Airbnb Select", Airbnb Plus properties - which can be either rooms or whole homes - are verified as having met a 100-point checklist. While not necessarily "luxury", the average cost of an Airbnb Plus home is just under $250 (Dh920) per night, while average Airbnb listings are $100 (Dh370) a night. Consumers booking under this tier will also receive a higher level of customer service from Airbnb.
Some 2,000 properties in 13 cities including London, San Francisco, Melbourne and Shanghai are currently verified as meeting the criteria, with hosts having been selected by Airbnb to undergo an inspection process including safety and amenities. These hosts and properties represent the top tier of Airbnb's inventory and the idea is that these homes will match hotels more closely in terms of consistent quality standards, but still offer "uniqueness of experience." The selected hosts were also expected to have their high standards reflected in customer reviews of 4.8 or higher out of 5.
The introduction of such a service by Airbnb, which is now 10 years old, could be seen as an acknowledgement that to date, the lack of uniform standards and varying levels of customer service and satisfaction has been an issue for some consumers, who with normal listings have follow a particular and time-sensitive complaints procedure should their accommodation fall short of expectations.
At present, no Select Plus listings are available to book in the UAE, but Airbnb hopes that by the end of 2018, the company will have a total of 75,000 Airbnb Plus homes in 50 destinations. Currently, Airbnb has over 4.5 million listings in 81,000 cities worldwide.
Items on the checklist include a clean and well-maintained space, clutter-free interior design, fast Wi-Fi, matching dinnerware, quality linens and towels, a space to hang clothes and coffee and tea making facilities. A seamless check-in process is also guaranteed.
Last year, Airbnb purchased the Montreal-based Luxury Retreats, a platform for luxury holiday rentals and personalised travel services; it has also branched out in 2016 with its Airbnb Experiences and Trips programmes, which connect travellers with local experts and guides to facilitiate immersive travel via "unprecedented access to local passions and interests."