​Forget home rentals, Airbnb wants to be your travel agent

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    Airbnb launches “experiences” where travelers can choose from hundreds of different excursions put together by local hosts.

    Photo by Airbnb

    Amol Surve was Airbnb‘s first guest in 2007. He slept on an air mattress in Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia’s San Francisco apartment. But, Surve said, that trip was much more than having a place to sleep. It was about spending time with locals and getting to know their city.

    Airbnb now wants to bring that sort of experience to all travelers. The site said Thursday it’s expanding beyond home rentals to also include personalized tours and trip planning. Basically, Airbnb wants to be a travel agent.

    “Homes are just one small part of a great journey,” Chesky said during an event at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday. “We realized we needed to create a holistic experience.”

    Airbnb has gone from a site that catered to couch surfers to having a massive online presence in the past nine years. It now has about 3 million home listings in more than 34,000 cities in nearly 200 countries. But that growth has come with challenges.

    The company has waged extended battles with regulators in major cities around the world, including San Francisco, New York, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. On Tuesday, San Francisco capped all short-term home rentals in the city at 60 days per calendar year….



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