Airbnb, the high-flying start-up for booking home rentals around the world, has ambitions to develop a slate of original shows to whet customers’ appetite for travel.
The strategy, previously unreported, is crucial for the company, which is privately valued at $31bn (€28bn) and is gearing up for an initial public offering of stock expected next year. Airbnb must distinguish itself from Booking.com, Expedia and others in the fiercely-competitive and consolidating travel industry, where apartment-renting services are increasingly common.
Chief executive Brian Chesky is driving the idea, arguing that creative content is important for Airbnb’s brand even if the business case is not always clear.
“Brian wants to create a studio,” one of the sources said. The mentality: “Let’s do shows. Let’s do films, because we want to be travel-everything.”
Mr Chesky, who co-founded the company, “likes big splashy things,” according to another source.
For at least three years, Airbnb has batted around ideas for creating or licensing mini-series and documentaries about travel, and shows featuring Airbnb homes, guests and hosts.
It has discussed working with studios as well as starting its own.
The company has worked on a television show slated for Apple’s upcoming streaming service: Home, a docu-series featuring unique abodes around the world and the people behind them.