The hospitality company is piloting a new dining program in San Francisco.
Travelers who want to eat authentic and local home-cooked meals while they’re on vacation may soon be able to book dinners at strangers’ homes.
San Francisco-based travel accommodations marketplace Airbnb is piloting a group in-home dinner program in its home city. The new dinner program lets hosts throw dinner parties for strangers. It’s basically a slightly different version of the company’s business. Instead of people sharing their spare rooms or their entire apartment to tourists for a fee, they share their dinner table. The company makes money from the program the way it does from its core business – by taking a cut of the proceeds.
Airbnb started their pilot test of the program earlier this month. Prospective dinner hosts are free to set the date and price of their meal offerings and interested diners simply have to book through the website. The meal listings include a brief description, the price per person, estimated duration of the event, as well as the estimated or expected group size. The pilot program is still in its early stages and is currently only available in San Francisco.
Airbnb already has a large, established and fast-growing network and it can certainly push the platform forward and create a new way for travelers to connect with locals for an authentic brand of tourism. The platform can also connect locals with one another in a new and interesting way.
Marissa Coughlin, a spokesperson for the company, told Reuters that the company is “always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experience.”
Airbnb’s pilot program isn’t something new, however. It is similar to existing P2P dining platforms like EatWith, a service that lets a global community invite guests into their homes to enjoy homemade meals. EatWith was founded in Tel Aviv and offers dinner locations in Europe, South America, and major cities in the US. There are also other startups like Feastly and Grouper that have used a similar business model to their services, currently available in major US cities. These startups basically get people together for meals and other parties.