Questions have been raised by leading trade figures about the consumer protection offered for those booking Airbnb’s new set of tours.
The accommodation platform has launched Airbnb Adventures – a range of 200 multi-day trips around the world, which are an extension of its existing Airbnb Experiences activities offered by hosts.
Airbnb said that the new trips, which include an Around the World in 80 Days itinerary, feature “for the first time lodging, meals and activities”.
Offering packaged tours in the UK requires some form of financial protection to comply with the Package Travel Regulations.
Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, told TTG: “There’s a reason no one else offers these kinds of trips. These are without doubt package holidays – they’re offering tour services, plus accommodation.
“Obviously they’re looking to sell in lots of different countries, and different countries have different rules. But if they sell in the UK, they will need to provide financial protection and will be liable if things go wrong.”
Noel Josephides, Sunvil founder and Aito director, added: “This was bound to come – they are obviously selling packages. They will have to provide financial protection and also take full responsibility for what they are doing, as they are obviously a principal.”
Simon Bunce, Abta’s director of legal affairs, agreed, adding: “These adventures would appear to be combinations of travel services put together and advertised by Airbnb. On that basis, they are packages.”
On its website, Airbnb says: “If, after selecting and paying for one travel service, you book additional travel services for your trip or holiday via the Airbnb platform, you will NOT benefit from rights applying to packages under Directive (EU) 2015/2302 [Package Travel Directive].
“Therefore, Airbnb will not be responsible for the proper performance of the individual travel services. In case of problems, please contact the relevant service provider.”
Abta’s Bunce said of this policy: “Airbnb has clearly considered the matter but we are not convinced that they have come to the right conclusion.”
Airbnb said its Adventures ranged from “cliff camping to kayaking to cultural immersions" and will be hosted by "experienced locals who have fascinating stories to share”.
An Airbnb spokesperson told TTG: "Airbnb Adventures is a collection of unique and magical travel experiences hosted by local experts.
"There are over 200 Adventures available to book across six continents, provided by people who decide when and where they host, where they stay, what activities they offer and what they charge.
"We are excited about the potential of Airbnb Adventures in the UK and the rest of the world due to the high demand for transformational, off-the-beaten track travel experiences."
The spokesperson added: "Airbnb’s responsible hosting page provides support, detailing information on the types of laws and requirements that may apply."
Joe Zadeh, vice-president, experiences, at Airbnb, said: “Like Airbnb Experiences, people can escape their day-to-day and put their screens and devices away but now instead of just a few hours, they have the option to be fully immersed off-the-beaten-path, to push themselves out of their comfort zones and have experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The company is planning to launch more Airbnb Adventures tours before the end of this year.