Airbnb takes on and Expedia as it tries to woo hotels and B&Bs

Airbnb is making a direct pitch to boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfast (B&B) owners as it attempts broaden the appeal of its own service and draw business away from travel booking sites such as and Expedia.

The home- and room-rental site this week published an open letter to owners of smaller travel accommodation premises to encourage them to list their places on Airbnb. In the letter, the company said small business owners have told it “time and again” that the fees charged by online travel agents, which can be as much as 30 percent, are “too high.”

Airbnb promised to charge lower fees than its competitors, with no long-term contracts to sign to appear on its site.

The letter points out that in its 10-year history there have been 300 million guest arrivals at Airbnb listings in 191 countries, and it’s aiming for a billion guests by 2028. Adding listings from establishments like boutique hotels and B&Bs will certainly help it to reach its target.

The assertive move by Airbnb comes as the company makes preparations to revamp the search system on its steadily expanding website to include new categories for places like boutique hotels and B&Bs.

Another new category coming to Airbnb’s website in the summer is “uniques,” where travelers can quickly find offbeat accommodation options that could include anything from treehouses to houseboats.

In other efforts to expand its business, Airbnb recently launched a new service called Plus featuring pricier accommodation that’s been personally inspected and guarantees a high level of value and service. Hosts at such establishments are described as “exceptional” for going “over and beyond to create the perfect stay.”

Another tier — its highest — will launch in the coming weeks. Called Beyond, it’ll feature luxury, high-end accommodation on a standalone website.

Unwilling to simply sit back and let Airbnb run the show, this week posted a new “book the U.S.” list on its site highlighting a range of quirky accommodation options from “caves and train cars to houseboats, castles, treehouses and yurts,” while claiming to have “more awesome, unique places to stay than any other travel company in the world,” though Airbnb is working to change that.

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