Destinations

Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour off to shaky start, after tour operators caution company

Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour, a social impact experience, has gotten off to a shaky start after the company was met with traveller complaints over payment processing.

This comes after the company released its first foray into adventure travel by launching multi-day tours through Airbnb Adventures – reportedly two-and-a-half years after Airbnb released Experiences – putting the company on the map for multi-day tours and in direct competition with traditional tour operators.

Screen capture of Airbnb's 'Around the world in 80 days' tour
Screen capture of Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour

Adventures has drawn criticism from tour operators who say that Airbnb might not be fully equipped for the demands of travellers.

“They are not real destination experts,” Oscar Lopera, general manager of group services at Diethelm Travel Group, which offers custom tours in more than a dozen Asian countries, told Skift. “They are travel companies who are digitalising the distribution and access of travel services or products in an easy, digestible, and associative way.”

Dan Christian, chief digital officer of The Travel Corporation, offered further scepticism about Airbnb Adventures, as reported by Skift.

“In order to run and sell tours properly they should be licensed by the U.S. Tour Operators Association, and they will have the same issue as their current experiences (day tours), which is that small local operators can’t scale and offer the same value, peace of mind, and consistent high-quality branded experiences that are key to the continued success of trusted and seasoned tour operators such as our Trafalgar, Contiki, and Insight Vacations,” Christian said.

“We appreciate that Airbnb has recognized the multiday opportunity, and we finally look forward to the larger online travel agencies recognising what an exciting opportunity of expanding distribution with well-recognised global brands.”

Despite the sour grapes from tour operators, Airbnb is aiming to deliver a socially impactful experience for around $6,000 per person (non-inclusive of flights) visiting a manifold of destinations around the world.

Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour includes stops opening in England and visiting Romania, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States, Ecuador, Chile, Iceland, and back to England.

On top of that, the company says 100 per cent of proceeds from bookings are going to the Malala Fund – a charity which works to give refugee girls in Syria, young women living under threat in Afghanistan and Nigerian girls who have escaped Boko Haram 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Malala Fund is co-founded by student and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin.

However, Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour, an experience that takes travellers to 18 countries and six continents, has been met with some poor feedback over its booking and payment process by customers.

A tweet by the company promoting the tour was met with criticism by customers, with one user saying that they had been charged twice for the tour.

Tim Andes tweeted: “I got charged twice for this haha. I hope I didn’t just take both spots?” The “both slots” reference was reportedly related to Airbnb only offering two openings at a time for the tours.

Another user said that they believed they had been charged three times for the tour, responding to Andes’ tweet.

Jess Mean tweeted: “Is it showing up in your Trips?,”

“I just got charged 3x (have 3 receipt/confirmation emails) but not sure if it’s actually real.”

Airbnb responded to users posting complaints on social media by asking them to contact Airbnb directly to deal with the issues. The company said it has resolved all complaints related to the tour.

“We are working to ensure that the booking process for this high visibility, one-off experience is smoother moving forward,” Airbnb said in response to Skift. “We immediately issued refunds to everyone who has been impacted and will continue to do all we can to ensure every guest has a great experience.”

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