If there is one Billion Dollar Unicorn that has never been in a rush to go public, it is AirBnB. The ten-year old company has taken to heart Warren Buffett’s mantra of “get rich slow”. After carefully planning its financial and operating model, AirBnB believes that it will be ready to go public this year.
AirBnB’s Growth Offerings
The vacation rental business may have been the first business that AirBnB ventured into. But, AirBnB believes that by 2020, more than half of its revenues will come from services that it is not currently operating.
As part of the business model expansion, AirBnB has been positioning itself as a travel company and not just a rental reservation site. After initiating the experiences segment last year, it is now focusing on additional opportunities such as offering local tours, luxury accommodations, and evaluating Airbnb-branded apartment buildings. As part of the luxury accommodation offering, AirBnB Lux, the company purchased Luxury Retreats, a Montreal-based vacation rental platform, for an undisclosed sum. Luxury Retreats had a portfolio of over 4,000 listings worldwide.
It is also adding newer technologies to its services. It added virtual reality features to listings so that guests can connect with hosts and co-travelers and see 360 photos and 3D scans inside a home or city. The feature will help the travelers get insights into the place and the city that they are going to visit. In the future, AirBnB plans to expand the capability to allow guests to evaluate destinations and home options with co-travelers and hosts while interacting in a more natural manner. Similarly, it is working on integrating augmented reality into the service. It believes that it will be able to help travelers by recognizing surroundings and providing contextual, timely information.
Besides adding new services, AirBnB is also expanding presence in international markets. To drive growth in China, it is investing in setting up a team that will manually review every listing published to Airbnb in China and assist hosts with everything they need to optimally describe their home to potential guests. It will also begin a trial of in-home inspections where AirBnB teams will visit listings and inspect them against criteria that address quality. Finally, it is investing in providing education initiatives to the host community and implementing a Community Mentorship Program that will be a platform for best practice sharing among hosts.