For years, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has told employees that one of his regrets about how he shaped the company was that it didn’t vet hosts to make sure their homes were high quality, two people who spoke with him said. Now that the company plans to launch a program that will spotlight hand-picked homes, it is grappling with how to manage the risks and execute the details of the service’s high standards without alienating factions of its hosts.
Airbnb’s new service, Airbnb Select, will offer rentals vetted and, in some cases, improved by the company. It is part of Airbnb’s growing emphasis on upscale rentals, a significant evolution for a company whose origins are rooted in subverting traditional hotels and businesses. The program could help Airbnb attract customers who haven’t wanted to take the risk of staying in a stranger’s home. Yet standardized offerings could dent the company’s reputation for uniqueness and accessibility. Higher-end rentals also come with higher costs of monitoring the properties.