In tens of thousands of cities around the world, Airbnb has transformed home owners into unofficial innkeepers. Now it’s flirting with the idea of making them amateur restauranteurs.
Though the company is saying little about this experiment, Reuters reports that Airbnb is inviting hosts in San Francisco to hold dinner parties for strangers and charge them a fee. And a Google search turns upthese listings for upcoming meals. It’s unclear whether these are part of the same program. But either way, Airbnb appears to be thinking about moving into the dining room. Because of Airbnb’s reach, that move could end up becoming popular. But it also promises to bring down the same wrath from regulators that its room-sharing service has attracted.
The original premise of Airbnb was basically: “I’m going away for the weekend. Would you like to rent my place?” Whether or not that’s still the prevailing version of room rentals on Airbnb has caused all sorts of trouble with city governments across the globe. But even more provocative is the idea of Airbnb specifically creating marketplaces for other services that don’t fit the model of selling what would otherwise sit idle. The move into meals seems more like Airbnb aspiring to become the connective tissue of offline life in general–and more like a direct shot at the concept of government regulation itself.