Today in San Francisco, Airbnb announced the launch of Airbnb Neighborhoods. The new product allows users to find the experiences they want based on their interests and the particular parts of a city that they want to stay in. Today, it’s coming online with more than 300 neighborhoods in seven cities.
According to co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, travelers in San Francisco have more than 3,000 choices on Airbnb. And location is the most important criteria for travellers when booking, but Airbnb hadn’t done a great job of highlighting the distinct neighborhoods throughout the city. Airbnb Neighborhoods will help with that.
The neighborhoods feature will allow its guests to search for the perfect place they’d like to stay based on their interests. The goal is to find a place to stay based on the local lifestyle of the residents there. Neighborhoods are linked to distinct tags, so for instance, if you’re looking for nice beaches in Rio, Airbnb Neighborhoods will show you which are the best parts of town to stay in.
Airbnb has put a lot of effort into growing this product: It handmapped more than 2,000 neighborhoods in part because it found that available cartography wasn’t as good as it would like. It found local editors to help curate content around the different neighborhoods it has chosen to highlight. Airbnb also added 70 people to its world photography team, specializing in street photography. “We want to show neighborhoods in the best light, but also in an honest light,” Airbnb Neighborhoods product lead Ann Montgomery said.
The Neighborhoods product is just one part of a longer-running effort on the part of Airbnb to differentiate and highlight interesting places in far-off parts of different cities. The company took a decidedly offline approach to this problem earlier with its “Local Lists” program, where it sought out interesting neighborhood joints from different cities and packaged them together in a printed guide. That program was launched in San Francisco, New York City, and Berlin. Airbnb Neighborhoods seems like an obvious online extension of that. It also ties in with Airbnb’s most recent redesign, which introduced Wish Lists to the site.
For guests, the new Neighborhoods product is designed to provide more information and context around the distinct neighborhoods in cities they’re looking to stay in. By doing so, Airbnb hopes that they’re able to make better decisions around where they’d like to stay, are more aligned with their tastes, and have a better experience overall.
In addition to its new Neighborhoods product, Airbnb also launched Local Lounges, which is designed to take the Airbnb experience offline.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 and has shown some pretty phenomenal growth since then. Earlier this year, Airbnb announced that it hit 10 million guest nights booked, and it claims more than 200,000 active property listings on the site. The company has raised more than $120 million over three rounds of funding, but is currently raising another big round at a valuation north of $2 billion.