Airbnb took a while to roll out its international businesses — for example, officially launching Airbnb.co.uk only in February 2012, despite being around since 2008. But in a sign of how Airbnb is focused on its wider business expansion, today the company began to promote its Neighborhoods feature, announced just four days ago, across some (but not all) of Europe. Neighborhoods offers travellers local online guides to help them decide where to stay, and it gives Airbnb an entry into offering services that span the “life” of a trip, beyond just being the place where people go to book accommodation.
When you go to Airbnb’s localized home pages for the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia, you get links to the new Neighborhoods feature. In most markets, Airbnb has chosen to promote it in the local language:
However, Germany, with Berlin one of the first featured Neighborhoods, gets the U.S.-English “neighborhoods.”
I guess “Nachbarschaften” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
The homepage rollout, it seems, is partly focused on countries that have cities featured in the initial list of Neighborhoods.
So, since Italy, Spain and Russia do not, the change might be for two reasons. Either these are already big markets for Airbnb in terms of booking customers who travel internationally; or it could be because Airbnb is planning to add cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Moscow and St Petersburg to the list of Neighborhoods soon.
Other local country sites in Europe — for example, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway — are still getting the old homepage, which looks like the old U.S. home page, including a link at the bottom for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
So not so local across the board after all.
Separately, the site also experienced some downtime today, noted by a couple of our readers and others:
airbnb run out of air today and the server went down, in this day and time why don't you go into the cloud airbnb—
sirnitti (@synitti) November 17, 2012
hey @airbnb - just a quick heads - i was not able to access the site via mobile. safari error was too many redirects and chrome just spins.—
Hasan Luongo (@MistOne) November 17, 2012
An Airbnb spokesperson says that this was just due to some scheduled maintenance.