#159: Airbnb, now even more like a hotel 🏨
Airbnb's race to compete with hotels again, and much more.

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It's astounding how little focus there is in the industry on newsletter creation rather than marketing, but there are some promising new options (Revue, Buttondown) around too that I'm following closely.

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Stay tuned! ✌


Airbnb moves on hotels

If you're like me, you probably don't use Airbnb as much as you used to. It might be because you need to be able to check in at random times like 1 AM, or it might be because you're tired of random people cancelling on you the day before you're scheduled to travel.

Regardless of reason, Airbnb senses that people are drifting back toward preferring hotels: it's now trying to compete on their home turf. A new program, Airbnb Plus, is marketed as a better way to guarantee basic levels of service β€“ like toilet paper β€“ by manually visiting and reviewing properties.

In other words, it's basically how the entire Airbnb platform should work, but is leveraged as a way to go a little more up-market. These Plus properties are required to be up to a particular standard, offer services like instant property access and other 'perks' that come with traditional hotel territory β€” as well as those that don't, like a fully-equipped kitchen for cooking while away.

How does Airbnb define that? Well, it sends someone to take photos, and inspect the property, before they can be accepted. Over time, they will need to keep up to standard (and maintain more than 4.8 stars) β€” essentially a way to brute-force the host taking responsibility.

Alongside this high-end focus, the company is actually welcoming boutique hotels to the platform as well, with a new category for them. These are interesting changes as people have become accustomed to expecting less from Airbnb properties over time; now it can capture higher end travelers who don't have time to mess around trying to meet the host in a parking lot.

Airbnb's biggest challenge in the short term is making up this weird middle ground: people choose the service for the 'home' experience overseas, but as the platform has become inundated with professional money makers this has become much harder to find. It doesn't appear the program addresses this, and it's a pervasive problem in Europe β€” you know the moment the host shows up holding a clearfile.

Still, the progress is interesting: hotels are competing by cutting prices dramatically, but not really innovating all that much (except this one in Amsterdam, perhaps) so there's plenty of space for Airbnb here. Eventually, like all 'sharing' economy businesses, it'll probably come full circle and just open a hotel anyway.

🌎 Read the full story at NYT

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You probably think you've had a bad roommate, but this story takes the cake I promise. Grab a coffee, settle in, and read this long read on the couch β€” it's a wild ride.

🌎 Read at NYMag

Other great reads

The case against Google (NYT)
This piece is a great read at the issues surrounding how big Google is, and how it's crushing competition before it even begins. I would say the same applies to Facebook, and others, even moreso β€” a fascinating read about what that means for you, as a consumer.

In an Era of β€˜Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better (NYT)

Fun with AI video fakes: how I got my wife on the tonight show (Medium)

What to care about in a job (Ben Kuhn)

The state of voice in 2018 (A piece I collaborated on, at Medium)


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Make Twitter Better

Twitter on the web is... well, the opposite of the mobile experience: dated, slow and it feels static. This nifty little Chrome extension makes life a little better on the web, particularly now that the Mac app is dead.

🌎 Download for free


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#159: Airbnb, now even more like a hotel 🏨