Airbnb bets that you want to stay in the house from "Up"

After competitor Vrbo launched an entire ad campaign calling out Airbnb for having too many novelty listings, it responded by (we assume) saying, “Screw it, we’re gonna add more novelty listings.”

Driving the news: Airbnb unveiled a new category called “Icons,” boasting a mix of unorthodox stays and celebrity hangouts. There are 12 Icon listings in the first batch, including a recreation of the house from Pixar’s Up, which is suspended in the air by a crane. 

  • Other listings include a night in the Ferrari museum, a stay at the house Prince lived at in the movie Purple Rain, and a speakeasy tequila tasting with Kevin Hart.

  • lottery system decides bookings, with most winners getting to stay for free. The company estimates that 4,000 guests will receive Icon stays this year. 

Why it’s happening: Airbnb saw huge success with past stunt listings like Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse and Shrek’s swamp. By adding more virality-bating destinations, it aims to create buzz and keep users frequently checking in to try and win a chance to book a stay.  

  • “Most people only ever open our app once or twice a year, and we’ve got to battle to make sure they think of us every single year,” CEO Brian Chesky told the New York Times.

Why it matters: If it wasn’t already apparent, the Airbnb of yore is no longer. As it faces constant flak over housing market impacts, hidden fees, and costlier listings, the company has pushed further towards total hotel-ification.  

Yes, but: It’s unclear whether the opportunity to receive a private Doja Cat concert will sway public opinion. A recent survey found that over half of Canadians and nearly two-thirds of renters support a short-term rental ban

Zoom out: Earlier this week, B.C. rolled out new restrictions on short-term rentals, with stricter rules for hosts and what kinds of properties can be listed.—QH