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Airbnb quietly tests 'experiences' section for selling tours and activities

Airbnb quietly tests 'experiences' section for selling tours and activities

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Earlier this week, Airbnb announced that it would revamp its app with separate sections for last-minute bookings and more elaborate weekend getaways. The latter category is meant to "inspire" users to take trips they might otherwise have overlooked, and Airbnb has apparently been testing a feature that takes this one step further, letting people directly sell tours, classes, or other "experiences" through its site. In Paris, for example, users can book a sightseeing scavenger hunt for $55 a person. In San Francisco, they can "make pickles with a pro" for $60. Like rooms, these are all provided by local hosts, who could be either skilled experts or people who want to make some money by sharing something like a home-cooked meal or a favorite hiking trail.

Airbnb already offers neighborhood guides to help users pick a room, and in 2011, it reportedly partnered with "travel experience" service Vayable to suggest activities along with rentals. Last year, it allowed at least one host to sell a private tour. This, however, would add an entirely new branch to Airbnb's services. Each page includes links for four categories: food and drink, sightseeing, learning, and "outdoors" experiences. They're organized by location, and only a few cities seem to have any listings; some broken links point to pages that could go live later. Overall, experiences are all grouped under one directory, which makes them fairly easy to navigate; the URLs indicate that there are 82 listings currently online.

The feature seems to have been first noted by travel site Tnooz earlier this week, but some pages include reviews from April, so at least a few people may have been using it for several weeks. Others don't seem to let you book at all. An Airbnb statement to TechCrunch is typically tight-lipped, saying that the company is "always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experiences on Airbnb."