Airbnb just made it easier than ever to avoid tourist traps

Propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Standing on the red bleachers in Times Square. Some experiences as a tourist are more predictable than others.

To combat boring, Trip Advisor-approved vacations, Airbnb just debuted a redesigned app that allows guests to avoid tourist traps. A new backend system and discovery feature promises users the ability to “live like a local.”

Guests can now access a series of local guidebooks, curated by hosts and power-users, that offer off-the-beaten-path recommendations for places to eat, drink, and explore. The Guidebooks, available today, provide three million tips across 35 cities, ensuring tourists don’t all end up at the same cliché landmarks.

If you search what to do in New York City on a planning site like Trip Advisor, you’ll find blasé picks such as the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and Broadway. Airbnb, on the other hand, suggests visitors grab a slice of pizza at the popular Bushwick destination, Roberta’s, or catch a movie at Nitehawk Cinema.

The sites can be filtered by neighbourhood, cost, and open hours. It even integrates Google Maps so out-of-towners can find their way there.

Behind the scenes, Airbnb is attempting to make its reservation system more organic.

A new algorithm mines users’ past searches and preferences across millions of data points, and tailors the results using machine-learning. If you prefer hip neighbourhoods that are family-friendly, Airbnb prioritises the places that fit those specifications.

The booking process also takes into account the host’s preferences, The new system might make for more compatible matches between hosts and guests, though an Airbnb employee tells us the algorithm does not collect information on personality.

At the announcement in Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters, CEO Brian Chesky also hinted at a big reveal this November, called “Beyond the Home,” that could leverage hosts as tour guides.

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