Now, get on Airbnb for a dance tour, historical walk, musical tour, star gazing or exploring off-road trails. Moving beyond accommodations, the community driven hospitality company has expanded its horizons with the addition of hosting experiences and tours.

With an aim to make travel magical, and not just some research project, the company introduced a new platform titled Trips with three key areas — Experiences, places and homes. They will soon add flights and services.

Amid a loud cheer and rousing welcome, Brian Chesky — co-founder and CEO of the online platform — started the three-day annual conference on Thursday here with the news of this upgrade — which further strengthens the company’s ethos of spirit of belonging and mission of reimagining hospitality’s future.

“It’s all about immersion in local community,” Chesky said as he introduced the world of Trips to the media and attendees of the conference here.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb made the concept of home stay popular, and at present has three million homes under its umbrella. India hosts a listing of 18,000 properties.

Now, they have taken a step forward to making it more interpersonal, more specific and towards making it more holistic. The idea first popped up in 2012.

“The conversations started in 2012 when we realised that Airbnb can become more than it is,” Chesky said while taking the attendees through a live demo of the upgrade.

One can choose from several experiences which are rated below $200, and can be spread out into hours or days as per the guests’ choice. And they are not only focusing on the money game, the platform also has social impact experiences hosted by non-profit organisations. all the money go to the cause.

The update will be available in 12 cities, including Detroit, London, Paris, Nairobi, Tokyo, Seoul and San Fransisco. And they plan to broaden their base next year with addition of 50 cities, including Delhi.

Chesky, 35, who talks about travel and the magic around it with great passion, said: “Most of the posters promise easy travel to magical land. The promise is a distant reality.

“The reality is outsiders, lines, doing things that locals will never do… It is more like a research project with all the planning.”

This propelled them to come up with handcrafted experiences. Some of the highlights are a historical walk with the prison guard of Nelson Mandela, or infusing life into the forgotten craft with a Korean embroidery tour.

And then there is Places, through which the user can meet like minded individuals, spot good eating joints or night clubs all with the help of locals.

Chesky promised that users will soon be able to do reservations in any restaurant through the online platform.

There’s more.

“This is literally the beginning. Most importantly, whatever we do or will do will be powered by people… A lot of technology companies say magic is in technology, but magic is in the people,” Chesky said while concluding his key note.

For Airbnb Open 2016, they have planned to give a glimpse of what’s in store, with Ashton Kutcher and Gwyneth Paltrow adding glamour to the event, which will conclude with a performance by famous band Maroon 5.

(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of Airbnb. Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])

By Sugandha Rawal

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