Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the service is expected to launch as a pilot this week with a select group of hosts, with a full service to launch by the end of this year. Those hosts who pass a detailed inspection are eligible to be featured on a special section of Airbnb's website and apps. (The sources asked not to be identified, as they were discussing a product that hasn't yet been announced.)
The company is expected to invite these handpicked hosts to participate in the new service this week, the sources told Bloomberg. The inspectors will examine the houses for requirements "from new and matching bed linens to plush towels and single-use toiletries typically found in hotel bathrooms," as well as check for working appliances and a well-stocked kitchen.
Offering premium real estate will help Airbnb attract older and wealthier travelers, who aren't as likely to use it now for fear that it's more of a wild card than a well-known luxury hotel. And since Airbnb takes a percentage of the cost of each booking, more expensive rentals would help boost its bottom line, too.
"With Airbnb expanding its services to improve travelers' experience by including hotel-like features, it may be able to attract a wider customer base," write Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.
Airbnb has been referring to the service as "Select," but hasn't determined an official name. The company declined to comment to Bloomberg. An Airbnb rep told Refinery29 that there's nothing to share at the moment. We'll be sure to keep you posted when we find out more.