Airbnb, with Wish Lists, starts selling the fantasy of travel

No longer just renting out other people’s couches, casas, and castles, Airbnb, with the launch of Wish Lists, is today selling fantasy.

Airbnb is the four-year-old San Francisco-based startup that offers travelers a people-powered alternative for finding a place to stay. The company, which has raised $120 million in funding, has helped tourists book more than 10 million nights in strangers’ beds since it launched in 2008.

With a brand new experience called Wish Lists, Airbnb moves beyond the purely practical and into the realm of imagination.

Wish Lists, just as simple as they sound, allow members to save the intriguing places they discover to lists — either for later personal perusal or for sharing with friends and other travelers. Members can create their own lists, get inspiration from the lists and real-time picks of friends, turn to their favorite notable figure as a travel muse, or peruse the site’s most popular lists. Lists are integrated with Facebook Timeline, drawing outsiders from the social network into the experience.

“We thought deeply about how sharing not only empowers trips but also fuels discovery and inspiration. Where else can users build their own aspirational lists that contain Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, the iconic Tower of London, and castles owned by the Borges family?,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement.

And while regular lists, which are associated with the tedium of chores, often get a bad rap as rather lifeless collections, Airbnb’s Wish Lists are anything but. Wish Lists on Airbnb provide the day-dreamers of the world with a vehicle for escape, and the pre-planners with an excuse to start researching that Caribbean getaway they’ve been fantasizing about.

To build their Wish Lists, users will have access to more than 1 million professional photos of the site’s 200,000 uncommon listings — from islands to igloos — and can tap into curated, featured Wish Lists that show off the pretty picks of celebrities from all walks of life.

Tech legend Jack Dorsey, known for his appreciation of great design, has created Wish Lists. So too has actor investor Ashton Kutcher. And in the Airbnb Picks section, staff members have crafted collections so dreamy — the “Private Islands” and “To Infinity Pools and Beyond” lists are must-sees — users may need to pinch themselves.

“With Wish Lists, we’ve not only transformed Airbnb to illustrate our passion for design; we’ve woven social into this product from the ground up, so discovering, creating, and sharing Wish Lists is a simple, sleek experience for users,” Gebbia said.

In so doing, Airbnb, a company that takes people to their desired destinations, has today itself become a place worth visiting and exploring awhile.

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