The new tier features properties including award-winning homes in New Zealand and South Africa, castles in France, historic villas in Tuscany, modern luxury villas in Thailand’s hottest resort destinations, including Phuket, and even a private atoll in French Polynesia, Nukutepipi, curated by Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil and Lune Rouge, complete with its own time zone.
Airbnb plans to add properties in at least 12 more cities this year, including Milan, Paris and Austin.
Airbnb Luxe is built on the deep expertise in luxury travel Airbnb gained from its acquisition of Luxury Retreats in 2017, explained a release issued by Airbnb yesterday (June 25).
"This new tier launches with more than 2,000 handpicked homes around the world, each one passing strict evaluation across 300+ criteria to meet standards in both design and function," the release explains.
"Each Airbnb Luxe booking provides access to a dedicated, highly trained trip designer who will ensure the stay is tailored to the traveler’s unique needs every step of the way," it adds.
“Today’s luxury traveler is craving more than just high-end accommodations; they seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community.
“With Airbnb Luxe we are applying the same approach we’ve used since we launched Airbnb more than 11 years ago – creating local, authentic and magical travel moments now in amazing places to stay – to reimagine the way people think and experience luxury travel.”
Airbnb's move to launch a luxury segment of its global rental bookings platform is aimed at meeting increasing demand from for luxury properties and experiences, the company explained in its release.
"In 2018, the number of Airbnb bookings for listings worth at least US$1,000 per night increased more than 60 percent. The increased interest in luxury travel on Airbnb is consistent with broader trends: analysts believe the luxury travel market is worth more than US$200 billion and poised to grow in the years ahead," the release added.
"Now, with Airbnb Luxe joining our portfolio, sitting above Airbnb Plus, we are closer to meeting the needs of every traveler at every price point by including the luxury category alongside our entire portfolio," the release noted.
A report by Bloomberg pointed out that the move is to isolate and target affluent travellers, a segment that is repaidly growing.
In 2017, only 36% of affluent travelers (defined as those with an annual income of over US$100,000) surveyed by Skift Research reported to staying in alternative accommodation or home rentals. This year that number has mushroomed to 59%, the report noted. (See story here.)
As such, the average listing on Airbnb Luxe has an asking price of US$14,000 a week, but but can reach as high as US$1 million a week for a private atoll near Tahiti that comprises 21 bungalows and a staff of 50.
"The new luxury tier represents a lucrative revenue source as well, even if Luxe’s 2,000 listings pale in proportion to the more than 6 million listings available on the general site," the Bloomberg report noted.
"The company takes a percentage of the cost of each booking it arranges, so more-expensive inventory generates higher margins and helps justify the privately held company’s $31 billion valuation," the report also pointed out.