Airbnb and Me

Introducing Airbnb Neighborhoods, a Local Guide for Travelers Deciding Where to Stay

"The definitive guide to experiencing neighborhoods."
screen shot 2012 11 13 at 1 50 43 pm Introducing Airbnb Neighborhoods, a Local Guide for Travelers Deciding Where to Stay

(Photo: Airbnb)

Today at a press event in San Francisco, travel startup Airbnb announced Airbnb Neighborhoods, a guide to help travelers decide which neighborhood best matches their interests and vacation style. Deemed “the definitive guide to experiencing neighborhoods” by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, users can click on different tags relating to the cities to help better acquaint them with local neighborhoods; in London, for example, you can click on “museums” and it will pull up the neighborhoods and rentals closest to museums.

“[Travelers] are overwhelmed with choices and these choices are vastly different,” said Mr. Chesky. “We’ve polled our users and they’ve told us that location is the most important criteria for them when booking. So we have a problem: location is the most important criteria for travelers. When they come to a city, they have thousands of choices in all different neighborhoods and they’re overwhelmed.”

Airbnb Neighborhoods is available for 300 neighborhoods across 7 cities. Each neighborhood page will have its own map–charted by an Airbnb cartographer–as well as searchable tags appended by locals that will help you better discover hidden gems. Neighborhoods also have a beautiful layout with photos of the neighborhood and the people who live there. The new feature is built on user research about what kind of things matter to people as they’re deciding on a location, including shopping, dining, nightlife and transportation.

The company also announced Airbnb Local Lounge, designated spots that are vetted by Airbnb and can serve as a beacon for Airbnb travelers. Each location will have a free crowdsourced neighborhood guide, and serve as a “warm, inviting” place for travelers looking for a local connection.

These new features help establish Airbnb as a travel suggestion company, not just a place for rental bookings. Plus, having Local Lounges interspersed around a city that provide helpful guidance to users could help encourage those who haven’t yet tried Airbnb to finally make the leap.

“Neighborhoods are the original communities. They are the keys to unlocking local culture and one-of-a-kind experiences,” Mr. Chesky said in a release. “By going deeper and tapping into local knowledge, we are introducing our community to a neighborhood’s personality so they can match it with their own.”

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

Comments

  1. steve coombs says:

    Is this airbnb neighborhood policy such a great thing?
    For London, many of the neighborhoods are strange choices eg Somerstown. Has some intern in San Francisco made these arbitrary choices?
    In another perspective, the choices of rich areas like Kensington and Mayfair sound like trying to get people to go to expensive but bland districts where airbnb can make the most commission.
    Is this just a cynical attempt to shepherd visitors away from the best kept secret good value spots into the more affluent and therefore more remunerative parts of the metropolis?
    Never mind the networking, airbnb are following the money just like the hoteliers.

  2. jmoh says:

    Check out airbnb’s Facebook. Many hosts are very unhappy w/ the new feature and have seen their inquiries and bookings plummet since it’s launch as have I. I live in Southwest DC which is a wonderful neighborhood which fits into many of the categories they allow users to search yet they don’t even have Southwest listed. In fact, Southwest is the closest neighborhood to the National Mall AND most museums are located in the neighborhood so one would think they would definitely cover that area…. Essentially they are taking business away from me rather than promoting my property. I’ve contacted them on this but they just say they’ll “eventually” list my neighborhood meanwhile I’m losing guests. Not cool.

    1. steve coombs says:

      This is surely the beginning of the end for airbnb as it opts for the safe wealthy neighborhoods dumping thousands of hosts who no longer even appear on the maps. All the diversity and interest of the Real places, the genuine traveler’s destinations abandoned as airbnb chase high commissions in rich areas prior to their launch on the stock market.

      All those ordinary people who made airbnb a success and welcomed people into their homes are now tossed aside in the search for the safe dollar. Watch now as airbnb goes from innovatory social networking meets accommodation to anonymous virtual hotel.

      This need not be the end though for real travelers who still want to get away from the boring tourist destinations to seek out the secret beating heart of the cities they visit. All those hosts and guests setting up a massive transnational network of friends can now switch to the myriad of alternatives (Wimdu, BedyCasa, Roomarama, Geronimo and the rest) who will pick up where airbnb have dropped the ball and missed the opportunity.

  3. jmoh says:

    Update: I just received word from airbnb that they listed my neighborhood! I truly hope other hosts who have had the same concerns have similar luck. Cheers!

    1. steve coombs says:

      This cynical selective neighborhood initiative will destroy the whole ethos of the airbnb community as they pursue the tourist dollar. Even for those hosts lucky enough to be among the chosen ones, they will find the guests treating their homes like hotels and themselves as servants. Gone will be all those interesting conversations between new found friends to be replaced by mindless demands and critical reviews. Do we really want our homes to be treated like hotels? Surely we have teenagers to do that already!
      Airbnb was a chance to find like minds, people like us. Now having built the network, they are happy to throw it away in a return to the same old same old – to get a better price on the market.