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What started out as a San Francisco start up for the vagabond on a budget has become a leader in travel accommodation. Now a decade on, they are tackling a new market: The extremely wealthy.

Airbnb is a website which provides an alternative to hotels and accommodates nearly every budget. Hosts will create profiles of their homes on the website and guests will choose how many nights they would like to stay. It is a similar system to booking a hotel online, except guests stay in other people’s homes. It is a system which provides the opportunity to stay in exceptionally creative homes, from a castle in Scotland to a flat in downtown Tokyo, or even a treehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Before the new features were launched, there were two options to choose from: A room or a whole house to yourself.

Airbnb has seen exponential growth over the last decade and has become extremely popular. It now lists homes in more than 81,000 cities around the globe and has over 4.5 million homes available. Their goal is to continue growing and have 1 billion people in their rentals by the year 2028. That figure is one seventh of the world’s population or, to put it into perspective, the population of the U.S.A and Europe combined.

As a move to reach that goal, Airbnb is now entering a new market and have their eyes set on the extremely wealthy. They have unveiled new additions to their website, Airbnb Plus and ‘Beyond by Airbnb’. Their objective is to allow their services to cater to every demographic, from the couch surfers to the wealthy.

These new services will initially start with 2,000 homes and in 13 cities across the planet. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky spoke at a conference and described Airbnb Plus as for guests “looking for beautiful homes” with “exceptional hosts.” ‘Beyond by Airbnb’ is a tier higher and includes “some of the world’s nicest homes”, for those looking for absolute lavishness.

A woman in San Francisco recently registered her home on Airbnb Plus and said “they came and literally opened every drawer.” They made sure she had the right kind of cookware and even inspected her carbon monoxide detectors.

Chesky ended the conference by saying, “We think we finally do have a home for everyone,” and continued with, “I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years look like.”

Difficult words

Vagabond: A person who moves from place to place.

Tackling: To fix or try something new.

Alternative: A different choice.

Launched: To start or begin.

Exponential: To rise rapidly.

Couch surfers: A person who doesn’t have a home and sleeps on people’s couches.

Initially: At first.

Tier: A level or layer.

Lavishness: To be rich or luxurious.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Vagabond A. Rapid
2. Tackling B. Released
3. Alternative C. Traveler
4. Launched D. First
5. Exponential E. Nomad
6. Couch Surfer F. Level
7. Initially G. Address
8. Tier H. Luxurious
9. Lavishness I.  Option

True or False?

1. Airbnb is now focusing on obtaining wealthy guests. T / F

2. People can only rent entire houses on Airbnb. T / F

3.  Airbnb wants to distance itself from cheap housing options. T / F

4. To book an Airbnb rental, you have to have a video interview with the host first. T / F

5.  Airbnb is carefully inspecting the homes before qualifying them to Airbnb Plus. T / F

6.  Airbnb Plus is starting with 3,000 homes throughout the world. T / F

7. Airbnb Plus is the highest option available on Airbnb. T / F

8. Airbnb was founded 20 years ago. T / F

9. Airbnb visited a host’s house in Los Angeles. T / F

10.  Airbnb now hopes they have a home for every demographic. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. which / website / and / to / nearly / budget / alternative / Airbnb / every / hotels / a / is / provides / accommodates / an

2. the / system / stay / exceptionally / homes / creative / in / It / to / which / a / opportunity / is / provides

3. seen / Airbnb / the / has / decade / over / growth / last / exponential

4. on / registered / Plus / Airbnb / recently / A / woman / in / her / San / home / Francisco

5. services / their / demographic / cater / Their / every / is / to / to / allow / objective / to

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

 Exponential  Combined Provides
 Initially  Vagabond  Unveiled
 Cookware  Tier  Creative

What started out as a San Francisco start up for the ______________ on a budget has become a leader in travel accommodation. Now a decade on, they are tackling a new market: The extremely wealthy.

Airbnb is a website which ___________ an alternative to hotels and accommodates nearly every budget. Hosts will create profiles of their homes on the website and guests will choose how many nights they would like to stay. It is a similar system to booking a hotel online, except guests stay in other people’s homes. It is a system which provides the opportunity to stay in exceptionally ___________ homes, from a castle in Scotland to a flat in downtown Tokyo, or even a treehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Before the new features were launched, there were two options to choose from: A room or a whole house to yourself.

Airbnb has seen ______________ growth over the last decade and has become extremely popular. It now lists homes in more than 81,000 cities around the globe and has over 4.5 million homes available. Their goal is to continue growing and have 1 billion people in their rentals by the year 2028. That figure is one seventh of the world’s population or, to put it into perspective, the population of the U.S.A and Europe ___________.

As a move to reach that goal, Airbnb is now entering a new market and have their eyes set on the extremely wealthy. They have ____________ new additions to their website, Airbnb Plus and ‘Beyond by Airbnb’. Their objective is to allow their services to cater to every demographic, from the couch surfers to the wealthy.

These new services will ____________ start with 2,000 homes and in 13 cities across the planet. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky spoke at a conference and described Airbnb Plus as for guests “looking for beautiful homes” with “exceptional hosts.” ‘Beyond by Airbnb’ is a _______ higher and includes “some of the world’s nicest homes”, for those looking for absolute lavishness.

A woman in San Francisco recently registered her home on Airbnb Plus and said “they came and literally opened every drawer.” They made sure she had the right kind of ____________ and even inspected her carbon monoxide detectors.

Chesky ended the conference by saying, “We think we finally do have a home for everyone,” and continued with, “I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years look like.”

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb?
4. Would you ever post your room or house on Airbnb?
5. Many countries are banning Airbnb, do you think it should be allowed?
6. What do you think about the new luxury Airbnb options?
7. How do you like to travel?
8. What was your worst travel experience?
9. What was your best travel experience?
10. How do you usually find your travel accommodation?
11. Is Airbnb popular in your country?
12. Do you think hotels or Airbnb homes are better?
13. What are the positives to the Airbnb system?
14. What are the negatives to the Airbnb system?
15. Airbnb has caused the rent in many cities to skyrocket, pricing locals out of the market. What do you think can be done to stop this?
16. Is Airbnb good for the consumer?
17. What do you think about Airbnb’s creative homes such as castles and tree houses? Would you like to stay in them?
18. Are there any popular start ups in your country?
19. Have you used any services from a start up?
20. Are there any other industries that you think should be tackled by a start up?