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Airbnb wants to make bots to cash in on all the stuff you do while you travel

Because one day, all guests might be staying in smart homes.

Airbnb 'An Evening In Havana' Jamie McCarthy / Getty

As more smart things creep into homes, Airbnb, which makes money as a go-between for people renting their homes, wants to ensure it’s in the fray.

The highly valued startup is tinkering with ways to integrate its services into AI home devices like the Amazon Echo, Airbnb’s product VP Joe Zadeh said on Wednesday at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference, which focused on AI and bots.

Adding bot features is another stab from Airbnb at finding revenue from supplemental services, features like museum- or restaurant-booking that the company is expected to unveil sometime later this year. Aside from direct integrations on platforms like Amazon Echo, bots and AI are key to making sure Airbnb's search features — giving guests more options, like neighborhood characteristics — are relevant to users.

Zadeh mentioned ways to connect Airbnb guests with popular destinations and local residents in cities they visit. He framed the bot tools as a way to do this with minimal effort on the user’s part.

“We want to think about how people improve the entire experience,” he said. “I don’t think people that are traveling halfway across the world want to stare at technology.”

They could talk to it instead. He noted recent company hackathons that produced three different projects for linking with Echo, Amazon’s surprise hit voice-controlled speakers. But Zadeh didn’t go into specifics or say if any of them would come to fruition.

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