Airbnb is now offering local experiences and tours

Airbnb is no longer just a hotel alternative.

The San Francisco based company launched Trips Thursday, reinventing itself into a full-blown travel agency.

After eight years of providing guests a place to rent while out of town, Airbnb is now helping travelers to immerse into local experiences and communities by expanding the role of the host.

The company explained in a statement it's encouraging guests to explore their passion and interest with local hosts worldwide. Travelers can take exclusive lessons on the art of Burlesque with a showgirl in London, explore Havana's music scene with an award-winning vocalist, or sleep under the stars in Los Angeles with an adventurous surfer.

Experiences can last a few hours or a few days and guests can choose from categories such as sports, nature, social impact, art, entertainment and food.

Trips launched in 12 cities around the world including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, Paris, Nairobi, Tokyo and Seoul, according to Airbnb.

The company said there are plans to have experience options in 50 cities by next year. 

Many of the experiences will also give guests the opportunity to give back to the communities they're visiting through non-profit organizations.

The platform now boasts more than three million homes in 191 countries and with so many options, Airbnb also wants to make sure guests don't fall into tourism traps.

The company said it's bringing places to life through the people who live there and providing the recommendations of hundreds of thousands of hosts and local influencers as an alternative to guidebooks.

This will open up guest options to include neighborhood gems and 'secret spots' from cafes, to restaurants and parks.

Airbnb said it's also linking up with Detour to offer audio walking tours, so people can explore their surroundings with a digital guide.

In addition, guests can now meet up with other guests and hosts at designated locations across participating cities worldwide.

The new features come just days after San Francisco banned hosts from having paying guests in a room, house or entire apartment for more than 60 days a year.

Airbnb's business is controversial. Critics claim property-owners turn their homes into short-term rentals for visitors, taking housing off the market and contributing to the gentrification of neighborhoods.

The new move distances the company from its current issues with the rentals.

Airbnb said it's planning to launch flight services in the future.

There's no word on whether or not Sacramento will be a destination with experiences.

You can sign up to be a host or explore your the world as a guest at airbnb.com.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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