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Airbnb may create original shows to spark the travel bug

It could pitch you on destinations and profit when you go.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 24, 2019
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Airbnb might not be content with hoping that you'll book a stay on your next vacation -- it may want to make that vacation more appealing in the first place. Reuters sources say Airbnb hopes to create original shows that would encourage would-be customers to travel. Although the specific plans aren't mented, CEO Brian Chesky is reportedly a long-time advocate of the project and aims to create a studio so that Airbnb can "be travel-everything." The company has toyed with the idea for a minimum of three years, according to one insider.

We've asked Airbnb if it can comment, although it recently acknowledged that it produced a documentary, Gay Chorus Deep South, that will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. It's also involved in a documentary series for Apple TV+, Home. Policy and comms executive Chris Lehane added that the company is considering streaming movies and shows through both its app and other platforms, although he stressed that this was "very much in the R&D phase."

Such an approach wouldn't be surprising. Airbnb has been gradually expanding its role in trips, selling customers on Experiences in addition to restaurant reservations and plans for transportation. It even considered creating its own flight-booking service and acquiring Skyscanner to make that happen, a Reuters source said. This would represent the logical conclusion -- Airbnb could sell you on exotic destinations and profit every step of the way.

This also echoes an increasingly familiar strategy in the tech world where companies turn to original programming to bolster their core businesses. While Airbnb isn't likely hoping to create the next blockbuster TV show or Oscar-winning movie, it might just thrive if would-be travelers are interested in what it has to offer. It wouldn't depend quite so heavily on rentals for its financial success.

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