Airbnb Wants to Take You Out to Dinner Before Hitting the Sheets

Airbnb is finally making good on the food end of the bed and breakfast deal, as the sharing economy hotelier has begun testing a program that would have the site's hosts throwing dinner parties for strangers.

The pilot program doesn't yet have a name, and a company spokesperson was tight-lipped when Reuters called for comment, but the move signals the $10 billion company is moving further into the hospitality business.

Airbnb is encouraging hosts to throw dinners for strangers as part of a new pilot program in its home city. The company would take a cut of the proceeds, similar to how it makes money from its core business of letting people list spare bedrooms or homes on its website.

The startup began inviting hosts in San Francisco to participate in the dining pilot on Tuesday. A listing for one of the pilot dinners charged $25 per person for a three-course meal.

Like most things in Silicon Valley, this idea has already been tried before with limited success. SupperKing, an "Airbnb for in-home dining," launched in 2012 with a burst of generous press. But the market for breaking bread in random's homes proved to be nil, and the app was soon pulled from the App Store. And then there was Grubwithus, which arranged group dinners with strangers that shared common interests, but that company already pivoted into another social location app.

Airbnb clearly thinks things will be different this time. Wielding the company's market clout, they intend on crushing the incumbent players in the "inviting people over for dinner" space—and taking a slice of the proceeds for dessert.

[Photo: Getty, via Reuters]