Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Updated at 4:49 AM ET

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Airbnb Now Offering Exorbitantly Expensive Homes

First Posted: Jul 08, 2019 10:10 AM EDT
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Airbnb House

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Airbnb was once famous for offering cheap accommodations for travelers in need of an affordable place to stay, but these days the company is taking heat for the exorbitantly priced homes it's recently decided to offer its more luxurious customers. Airbnb's recent foray into the luxury real estate market has irked some of its long-time users who have come to expect a focus on cheaper properties, but the company hopes its more expensive offerings will lure in additional clients who are willing to spend more than ever before.

Here's an analysis of Airbnb Luxe, and why the company felt it was necessary to cater to wealthier clientele in order to keep moving forward.

Care for a castle in the French countryside?

When Airbnb announced that it intended to offer more luxury accommodations, most everyday travelers likely thought that the company was offering something along the lines of a night's stay at a five-star hotel. In reality, however, Airbnb had even bigger ambitions and is now literally offering the possibility to stay in a castle in the French countryside, to name but one example of its lofty new properties. The Luxe portfolio features at least 2,000 high-priced real estate options which would mostly be out of the reach of everyday consumers, but Airbnb is hoping that a renewed focus on wealthier clients will pay off without angering too many of its everyday customers.

Customers who are interested in Airbnb Luxe had better be prepared to break out their checkbook; the program is oriented around spending at least $1,000 a night. Extraordinarily glitzy and reclusive private mansions are now available alongside top-of-the-line amenities, though they may remain out of reach to many users who have grown accustomed to the app's ability to ferry them to affordable accommodations on short notice. This is likely a direct result of the company's decision to acquire Luxury Retreats for a whopping $200 million or so a few years ago, which was viewed by many as an absurd investment. These days, however, that acquisition could pay off by enabling the company to offer premium properties to cash-laden users willing and eager to spend extra for a scenic view.

Luxury Retreats was effectively an Airbnb service for the rich before the company bought it out, and it's since been seamlessly incorporated into Airbnb Luxe. The exuberantly priced nature of these properties can't be overstated; you could spend a night at a New Zealand vineyard, a Tuscan estate, or age-old properties which dot the European landscape. A list of some of the most luxurious properties offered by Airbnb includes some listings which cost $10,000 for a single night's rest.

Will Airbnb's bet pay off?

It's fair to say that Airbnb's decision to foray into the luxury real estate market is going to pay off sooner rather than later, especially since the company has enjoyed a deluge of press coverage following its Airbnb Luxe announcement. The company insists that properties must have "elevated design standards" in order to qualify for its Airbnb Luxe program, and those with rare, unique, and otherwise expensive features will be given priority status over relatively lackluster listings which fail to pique the interests of the super-wealthy. This means it will have beds sourced from places like  sleepjunkie reviews giving advice to homeowners. While everyday users might be perturbed by the company's exorbitantly expensive homes, other wealthier travelers will doubtlessly find it fascinating and worth giving a go before dismissing it entirely.

Nevertheless, Airbnb has some unique problems it must confront before totaling dominating this new marketplace. The company is still under fire for privacy and surveillance concerns which were ignited by a privacy scandal surrounding cameras inside of an offered listing. Early Airbnb customers were likely concerned about the comforts of the home in question, finalizing on where they wanted to stay, but modern users are likely concerned about more serious surveillance problems which have grown all too common in this day and age. It's possible that the extra money Airbnb Luxe users spend could keep them safe from such surveillance, but then again, the owners of these particularly valuable properties will likely want to ensure that they remain safe in the hands of Airbnb customers.

Airbnb has seen business steadily ticking upwards, so it's likely that the Airbnb Luxe program is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, these sometimes ludicrously expensive homes will doubtlessly continue to draw criticisms, especially when they're offered in areas with a high homeless population. The company's focus on luxurious Caribbean condominiums and age-old French castles could earn it a few extra bucks, but the PR crises which could stem from such accommodations are also worth considering. With all Airbnb Luxe users being assigned a trip designer to help turn their vacation into a wondrous experience, it will doubtlessly prove popular with the wealthy, but everyday users may continue to think that the company has come a long way from its early and humbler origins. 

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