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In a move that the hotels industry may see as a direct challenge to the sector, the company which offers ‘local destinations for a global community has set up its own in-house design studio – Samara – and is planning a guesthouse that will ‘merge the community with a space for guests’, aiming to foster closer relationships between travellers and the communities they are visiting.
The guesthouses will target declining small towns and create a local space for the community to meet and socialise whilst also hosting tourists.
The first - Yoshino Cedar House - hopes to draw interested visitors to the more rural areas of the Nara prefecture of Japan.
Airbnb hopes to replicate the model in other communities around the world, including the UK, with the hopes of bringing socio-economic rejuvenation to a town or region.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said the project allows a host town to receive an economic stimulus and he hopes that local people will get excited. He said, “It’s a pathway to get the community to help each other, and it happens to be in the form of architecture.”
With hotels acting as responsible businesses and increasingly seeking to have a positive impact on the communities in which they’re based, the community guesthouse could be a ground-breaking model in choosing a new destination to bring tourists, specifically with the aim of stimulating the local economy.
Airbnb says its mission is to change the way people travel, offering an alternative to mass produced tourism, and in April rolled out an updated app that sought to match accommodation with people’s personal preferences and encouraged them to ‘Live there’. Co-founder Brian Chesky said at the time, “The number one reason people chose to travel on Airbnb is they want to live like a local. Our hosts offer more than just generic hospitality - they welcome travelers from around the world into their communities. Today is the start of an exciting journey to help people not just go somewhere, but truly live there.” The community guesthouse concept is clearly an extension of that ideal.