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Airbnb to offer loans and advice to hosts under new scheme

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The trial, dubbed Airbnb Select, will see rental firm provide home improvement loans as it seeks to standardise offerings

Airbnb is looking to take an increasingly active role in ensuring the homes it offers for rent on its site are pleasant to stay in, from offering loans to hosts for home improvements to actively partnering in the construction of an apartment block in Florida, according to reports.

The changes, which see the company move further than ever from its origins as a listing site connecting holidaymakers with hosts who have a spare room, could help Airbnb cement its position as an alternative to traditional hotels.

But it also risks irritating hosts who enjoyed the previously laissez-faire approach, as well as prompting awkward questions from regulators worldwide about the precise nature of Airbnb’s business.

The home improvement loans are part of a programme being trialled by the company, dubbed Airbnb Select, according to industry news site the Information. The programme will highlight homes and hosts that are more likely to appeal to travellers seeking a high-quality, hotel-like experience, the Information says, as well as offer them guidance and assistance to further iron out the wrinkles in their offering.

That can range from advice on cosmetic improvements to their homes, to help shooting the best photographs, as well as more significant aid such as the loans, which would be repaid through revenue made from future bookings.

Select is just the latest example of Airbnb’s effort to create a more standardised offering. Even its conventional hosts have reportedly come under pressure from the company to dial back on the idiosyncrasies that the site was famous for in its early days, when the key selling point for many tourists was the ability to “live like a local”, as one recent ad campaign put it.

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