Airbnb, a San Francisco based startup for hip travelers is growing, and it’s about to start growing even faster. Since its launch in 2008, there have been nearly 2 million nights booked on the website. The service attracts the open minded amongst us, the young at heart and those willing to share their experiences with others. Today, Airbnb launches an awesome new referral program that might very well double its member base.

The new program encourages users to invite their friends by offering them cash credits to be used towards future Airbnb bookings. Airbnb first tested the new referral program in a hugely successful closed-beta program of 2,161 existing members, which brought in 2,107 new members, nearly a 1:1 ratio of community goodness.

It’s summer and even the most seasoned travelers are warding off wanderlust by cruising through Airbnb’s collections, but if making the green is what’s holding you back from your vacation dream, we’ve got good news for you…We’re opening the floodgates so everyone in the Airbnb family can earn free travel. That’s right – as if using Airbnb wasn’t fun enough, now we’re letting you earn free trips for the word you’re probably spreading anyway.

- Airbnb

Referrals Screenshot 520x284 Airbnbs new referral program could double its member base

Here’s how it works:

  • For each friend you invite to Airbnb that books a trip of $75 or more, you will receive $25 travel credit.
  • For each friend you invite to Airbnb that posts their place and receives a booking, you will receive $75.
  • So, each friend you invite can earn you up to $100 travel credit.
  • Invite friends from Facebook, by email or through the unique referral URL that gives you credit as your referrals sign up through the affiliate link.
  • You may apply your travel credit all at once to a specific trip. Meaning, if you have $400 in referral credit and you book a place for a total of $450, you only pay $50.
  • Airbnb automatically generates a coupon code for your credit, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting a pin number or wasting your points.
  • If you want to bank your points for later, simply remove the coupon code until you’re ready to cash in your credits.
  • After you have invited friends, you can track the status of your invites in a table on www.airbnb.com/referrals.

The possibilities are endless! I suggest just going to Airbnb’s homepage and watching the slideshow of options for a few minutes. It may be all you need for travel inspiration.

Screen shot 2011 06 21 at 11.35.34 AM 520x412 Airbnbs new referral program could double its member base

Airbnb has been a social company since the start by encouraging members to sign in through Facebook, which The Catfish movie aside, certainly adds legitimacy to the site. In May, Airbnb launched a neat “Social Connections” feature, which allows you to see available rooms from hosts who are connected to you by one or two degrees on Facebook. In just a few weeks, Airbnb went from 16 million to 25 million social connections. 

For example:

Screen shot 2011 06 21 at 10.29.45 AM Airbnbs new referral program could double its member base

And just as an FYI to all you potentially new Airbnb users, yesterday, Airbnb launched “Destination Honeymoon,” a contest that lets two newly wed couples win a trip to Tuscany or the Caribbean on Airbnb. Airbnb says, “This is a way for us to give back to our community and let them get started on the right foot.”

With 50 people in the San Francisco office, Airbnb has an additional 40 employees working around the world, and is hiring at a rate of 3 people per day, mainly for customer support. In Latin America, Airbnb’s offerings are literally doubling every single month. In total, Airbnb has 60,000 listings and is adding 1,000 new listings per day. With over 14,500 cities in 184 countries, Airbnb looks poised for world domination.

Sign up here! :)