Airbnb may produce original programming to hook travelers

Image credit: Airbnb

Airbnb is considering producing its own television content to stream through the Airbnb app, in order to persuade users to visit new locales.

The popular travel app helps connect would-be globetrotters with apartments, hotels and residences for their travels. According to a report by Reuters, Airbnb has been toying with the idea of producing its own television content for the past three years.

The initiative is reportedly being pushed by CEO Brian Chesky, with everything from travel docs to mini-series featuring Airbnb hosts on the table. One source described the idea as “Let’s do shows. Let’s do films, because we want to be travel-everything.”

Using one of our favorite guilty pleasures (watching TV) to provoke travel habits is a smart move, and could see Airbnb finally position itself as a lifestyle brand rather than a travel agency in the vein of Expedia.

Show business is big business

What would Airbnb programming even look like? We know the company has been involved in travel documentaries before, notably Gay Chorus Deep South and even an upcoming TV show for the Apple TV Plus streaming service. It's unlikely we'd see a travel-themed drama or comedy show (though we'd love to see it try).

With both Disney Plus and Apple's streaming platform set to launch in the coming months, and the TV landscape increasingly full of video content no one could ever have time to get through, is there room for a travel app to cash in on our taste for TV? 

If skimming through a documentary on Parisian cuisine, or backpacking through South America, is going to help users imagine themselves in far-flung locales – and help Airbnb distinguish itself from the competition – it could well work out well for the service.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.