AirBnB, a San Francisco based start-up for hip travellers is having a good day. Tonight they released a shiny new iPhone app and announced a cool $7.2MM in funding.
The two-year old service is like an upgraded version of CouchSurfing with less hippy college students and more variety. It’s a community for wanderlust travelers to browse 30,000 housing listings ranging from couches, air mattresses, private rooms, entire apartments, villas, boats, treehouses and castles in 8,000 cities in 166 countries. Travellers and hosts are encouraged to recommend and comment on each other’s profiles; building reputable reviews is one of the keys to being a power AirBnB user.
As somebody with an extra room to rent, Airbnb is the best thing ever–it’s absolutely changed my life. Hotels are cold and commercial, and all feel the same, whether you’re in Chicago or Shanghai. With Airbnb, you get a much more local experience, and sometimes make friends. I’ve had many former tenants from all over the world who I now consider friends.
-Seth Porges, a Brooklyn resident and tech writer, is one of AirBnB’s “Power Hosts.”
Last weekend I used AirBnB to find a $30 a night air mattress in Copenhagen, Denmark after learning that my original plans meant crashing on a couch in a room filled with sweaty Argentine guys. My host, a young 27-year old Danish chick who runs a Groupon like travel start up called Take Offer offered me espresso upon arrival and baked me fresh carrot and beet bread. Yum.
Their new iPhone app is a great step forward for AirBnB. Once they work out a few kinks (couldn’t log in at time of post because the keyboard wouldn’t come up on for the Facebook log in option) it has the potential to be a must-have for on the go travelers looking to make instant bookings. I was able to still browse the app and took a screen shot below. It’s a beauty and makes me want to go to Costa Rica….pronto!
AirBnB is growing rapidly. The company has 40 job openings at the moment and is looking to improve its international operations including multilingual customer support (the $7.2 million should help here). They also launched AirBnB TV this year which features locals from around the world giving personal tours of their home cities. With over 700,000 nights booked and 80 percent of those in the last six months, AirBnB has some seriously inspiring and disruptive potential.