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Airbnb is reportedly planning to introduce a service offering luxury penthouse apartments, mansions and mega-homes to customers in a move to offer more elegant accommodation

Currently known internally as ‘Airbnb Lux’, the company is expected to begin marketing this product by the end of the year. It follows on from their acquisition of Canadian company, Luxury Retreats, which offered users high-end accommodation facilities. Luxury Retreats had over 4,000 luxury rentals available throughout the world, providing services to well-heeled travellers. Airbnb bought out the company in February 2017 for $300 million.

Airbnb has been a pioneering force in the sharing economy since it was founded in 2008. A simple-use platform, along with convenience, has engineered growth that far outstripped early projections. A key component of their market growth comes from customers becoming providers. Those renting an apartment or room during a trip decide that they can earn revenue from a spare room in their property. The availability of short-term letting, flexible dates, and a range of services on offer, from sofa-beds to penthouse apartments, has delivered huge success for the company. Airbnb is now projecting that it will earn profits in the region of $3 billion by the year 2020.

The company is not without its problems, however. The growth in the company’s success has drawn attraction from unscrupulous landlords in cities all over the world. Numerous stories abound of landlords who have evicted longstanding tenants. In Los Angeles, tenants who had been living in an apartment complex for ten years were evicted, only to be replaced by Airbnb customers who were charged over $500 a night.

Such problems have led to government intervention. In San Francisco, all Airbnb renters are now required to register with the city authorities in an effort to map leased buildings. In Barcelona, the city council increased fines to €600,000 for any short term rentals not registering with the Catalan Tourist Register.

Despite these headaches for the company, it is witnessing a growth in market share at an exponential rate. The service has far outgrown the US market, as Asian cities now provide some of its biggest areas of expansion. Osaka, Beijing and Tokyo are three of the top five growth cities for the company. Airbnb listings in Osaka grew by an astounding 542% between 2015 and 2016.

Airbnb has also aided travellers in times of need. During terrorist attacks in Paris, the company helped those affected by offering to find them somewhere to stay for free. Over 300 community users of the company offered places to those who were stranded by the effects of the attack.

The most recent announcement of Airbnb, offering services to more elite travellers will likely see the company expand. The sharing economy is no longer relegated to millennials who find it cost efficient, it has expanded to accommodate a broad range of society. You can now get an UberBLACK, its high-end service, to your plush Airbnb villa.

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