Airbnb will invest in original programming to establish itself as an authority on travel culture. With an initial public offering expected next year, the start-up has set its sights on rapid expansion in terms of services but also organic engagement with travelers.
The home-sharing platform already produced a documentary called Gay Chorus Deep South that will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. The documentary follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as they toured the Southeastern United States. The Gay Men’s Chorus will perform live at Tribeca following the documentary screening.
Airbnb isn’t stopping there, inside sources told Reuters. A TV show called Home is planned for the newly announced Apple streaming service, featuring unique dwellings and those who live there.
“We are early in the R+D [research and development] phase of this process,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president of global policy and communications said in a statement to Yahoo Finance. “While we are not looking to create a traditional 20th century model, as a global people-to-people platform with tremendous organic traffic to our site, we know that that experiential content in a variety of forms is important to engagement and we are focused on finding and supporting the kind of tastemaker content—like the Airbnb Magazine—that is consistent with our mission of belonging.”
Airbnb hosts nearly five million lodging options across 81,000 global cities and as of March 2017, was valued at $31 billion during its last round of funding. Forbes estimates that the company is now worth at least $38 billion. Last week, the company finalized its acquisition of HotelsTonight, an app that connects travelers with boutique and independently-run hotels for last-minute bookings.
Ahead of its IPO, which is expected sometime in 2020, Airbnb must set itself apart from other travel brands in a $7.6 trillion industry. The company is not the first travel and hospitality brand to venture into original programming, either, making this new venture even more challenging.
Booking.com is two seasons into A Sense of Place, a vacation rental show hosted by influencer Matt Landau. In September, Carnival Corporation compiled all its branded video content onto an app called OceanView Mobile. At launch, the app featured over 150 full episodes of popular ocean travel TV shows and short-form videos with the goal of increasing cruise vacation awareness.