SAN FRANCICSCO: Airbnb, the lettings platform that has spent the past ten years disrupting the traditional hotel and hospitality market, is introducing a range of new features as it seeks to attract one billion annual guests by 2028.

The company, which began in 2008 as a website for couch surfers, has since grown massively and currently lists around 4.5m places to stay in 81,000 cities across 191 countries.

To mark its tenth anniversary, Airbnb announced in a statement that it is looking to build on its success with new property types and services designed to appeal to a broader cross-section of customers.

“10 years ago we never dreamed of what Airbnb could become. In fact, people thought the idea that strangers would stay in each other’s homes was crazy. Today, millions of people every night do just that,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and Co-Founder.

“But we want to go further by supporting and expanding our community so that in 10 years’ time, more than one billion people per year will experience the benefits of magical travel on Airbnb,” he added.

Accordingly, Airbnb is introducing a dedicated section on its website covering four new property types – Vacation Home, Unique Space, B&B and Boutique – which include unorthodox locations, such as tree houses, boats and yurts.

Airbnb said it is differentiating these listings to “provide greater transparency over the types of accommodation available” and to give greater choice for guests.

In addition, the company is launching what it calls Airbnb Collections, a service designed to suit different types of travellers, such as families or those on business trips.

And Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb are two new high-end tiers, with the former catering for those who want the peace of mind of knowing that all Airbnb Plus properties are personally visited and verified by a company inspector.

Beyond by Airbnb, meanwhile, goes one level higher with the promise of offering customers “the world’s finest homes, custom experiences and world-class hospitality”.

Finally, Airbnb is expanding its Superhost customer loyalty programme to include 14 new and updated benefits, while a new Superguest initiative will be trialled this summer with additional benefits offered “across the entire trip”.

Sourced from Airbnb; additional content by WARC staff