Airbnb, 23andMe partner for creepy heritage travel recommendations

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Your DNA may soon help dictate where you go on vacation thanks to a bizarre partnership between hospitality company Airbnb and genetic testing service 23andMe.

Capitalizing on the growing trend of “heritage travel,” where individuals visit locations linked to their ancestry, both companies announced Tuesday a new feature aimed at connecting travelers to their past.

According to a press release from Airbnb, the new travel option follows a 500 percent increase since 2014 of people using its service to trace their roots.

“Whether it’s a class in your neighborhood, or a trip to a distant country where your ancestors called home, connecting with your roots can be an eye-opening, enriching experience, and with the help of Airbnb and 23andMe, you can now plan a trip as unique as your DNA,” Airbnb says.

Users of 23andMe will be able to “find Airbnb Homes and Experiences in their native countries” after receiving their ancestry report while Airbnb users can now visit “dedicated pages that correspond with 23andMe’s genetic populations.”

Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer, argues the new feature will further enable users to obtain “authentic travel experiences.”

“At Airbnb, we believe that authentic travel experiences help you connect with local cultures and create a sense of belonging anywhere in the world—and what better way to do that than traveling to your roots,” Gebbia says. “We’re proud to team up with 23andMe, the leader in helping people learn about their genes and ancestry, to make it easier for travelers to plan trips as unique as their DNA.”

23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki similarly praised the effort, calling the partnership an opportunity for “customers to connect with their heritage through deeply personal cultural and travel experiences.”

Users are responding to the heritage travel announcement with mixed reviews. While many appear excited at the prospect of exploring their past, many called the new feature downright creepy.

“How to make 23andMe’s DNA testing even creepier, you ask? Pair that data with Airbnb so people can plan trips to their ‘ancestral homes,'” one Twitter user wrote. “It’s called ‘heritage travel,’ or as some might say, TOTAL DYSTOPIA.”


Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.