Airbnb Inc. has launched a $10 million fund to inspire the creation of the wackiest and most unique property destinations on the planet. The vacation-rental site will offer 100 people $100,000 to create unforgettable stays, like a “livable donut in the desert,” according to the application form. Designs must possess a wow factor, consider the environment, and be completable by August 2023.
A panel of judges, including American designer Iris Apfel and Sydney-based architect Koichi Takada, will evaluate submissions and select the projects. In May, Airbnb redesigned its website to help visitors discover off-the-beaten-path locations. The OMG! Fund is designed to highlight more one-of-a-kind destination homes like the Big Idaho Potato Hotel in Boise, Idaho, which looks like a giant spud from the outside and features cozy accommodations including a fireplace and antler-carved chandelier. The Deluxe Covered Wagon farm stay near Las Vegas offers horse rides, cattle drives, and rodeos.
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Airbnb, along with its rivals Expedia Group Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc., have said they expect this summer to be one of the best the industry has ever seen, despite higher gas prices and flight cancellations. Focusing on unique properties helps the company distinguish its offerings, as debates rage over the merits of staying at an Airbnb versus a hotel room. The San Francisco-based company said nights booked at unique properties increased globally by more than 49% from 2019 to 2021.