When the new Apple TV is released next month, Airbnb will be one of the first non-media outlets to launch an app on the overhauled device.
But will Airbnb’s app actually inspire travelers and lead them to book rooms via their TVs? Or is it just an attention play for a business flush with venture capital that puts Airbnb’s name in front of potential travelers every time they power on their Apple TV and gives media reason to write about the company (like this article)?
Details on the app are sparse, but on its blog, Airbnb said the app will make use of TV’s larger screens to emphasize photos rather than text, allow users to save favorite properties, and sync with its iPad and iPhone apps.
As opposed to the individual experience of browsing Airbnb on an iPad or iPhone, Kevin Carl, managing director of digital for travel at Accenture, a consultancy, said that the Apple TV app would put Airbnb’s content and inspiration for travel at the center of the home.
“This is sort of a virtual fireplace that people used to gather around to talk about a family event and what’s next,” Carl said. “And I think this puts Airbnb at the center of that, at least their content. When people are going after inspiration for where to go next, [Airbnb] is going to be right there.”
Carl said Airbnb also could use its Apple TV app to train hosts and have more control over its public image—as opposed to YouTube, were searches for Airbnb can bring up negative experiences.
It’s likely that other travel companies will follow Airbnb’s lead and launch Apple TV apps, Carl said, especially as apps and devices become more integrated. While he doesn’t know of any companies pursuing this technology, Carl said it’s not hard to imagine watching travel content on an Apple TV and then using Siri to book a trip to the destination being shown from within that device.