Even Airbnb can’t resist the urge to copy Snapchat, it seems. The home rental outfit is quietly beta testing a Stories feature in its iPhone app that (surprise!) lets you document your trips with photos and short videos. You can view the resulting productions both on your phone and the web, and they appear to automatically link to places in the stories along with the related accommodations. Clearly, Airbnb sees this as a marketing tool — you might be more likely to book a rental if you see examples of what people did during their stays. It doesn’t hurt that this could get you to use the app beyond scheduling your own trips.
We’ve asked Airbnb for comment on the beta test. As our TechCrunch colleagues point out, though, the most pressing questions might surround Airbnb’s policies. Will it keep Stories if they’re highly critical or include risqué content? Are your productions locked into Airbnb, or is there a way to share them with platforms like Snapchat or Instagram? While the service is no stranger to grappling with offensive behavior, it’s not used to social networking elements like this — a beta test may be crucial to fine-tuning its policies.
This isn’t likely to be Airbnb’s only big bet in the near future. TechCrunch noted that Airbnb is prepping a loyalty program that would reward frequent travelers. It’s not certain just how this would function, but it’s possible that you’ll earn points toward future stays. You’d have an incentive to use Airbnb beyond any up front savings over a conventional hotel, and might be tempted to upgrade to a posh location if you get a steep-enough discount.