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Airbnb Expands Offer to UFO Hunts and Lion Tracking

Olivia Carville

(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. is expanding into “adventure tourism,” offering travelers the chance to search for UFOs in Arizona or track lions on foot with Samburu guides in Kenya, as the room-rental company seeks to broaden its business in advance of an initial public offering likely next year.

The company’s latest foray into tourism, called Airbnb Adventures, will start with more than 200 global activities. The offering is an extension of its tour service Airbnb Experiences, which the company started in 2016. Adventures will offer more elaborate multiday trips, where hosts act as tour guides, arranging itineraries, accommodation, meals and costs for as many as 12 people at a time, the company said Thursday in a statement.

Airbnb is striving to diversify its business in the lead-up to an IPO that may come in 2020. It has recently vowed to become an end-to-end travel platform, offering hotel booking, tours and potentially even flights on top of its traditional home-share business.

The San Francisco-based company began in 2008 by persuading millions of people to open up their homes to strangers. Now valued at $31 billion, it has more than 6 million listings worldwide, including its recent expansion into luxury real estate when it took over 10 floors of Rockefeller Plaza in New York.

Airbnb said the price of its new Adventure program can vary from $79 for an overnight stay to $5,000 for a 10-day trip.

Airbnb is among the companies vying for a share of the international adventure travel market, which the Adventure Travel Trade Association valued at almost $700 billion in 2017. Booking Holdings Inc. launched Booking Experiences in the U.S. in 2018 and startups like GetYourGuide GmbH, Vayable Inc. and Peek Travel Inc. have also raised venture capital for their own tour-booking websites and applications.

However, Airbnb Adventures are exclusive to the platform and can’t be found on any other major booking site, the company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at ocarville1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Anne VanderMey

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