Airbnb: A fairy tale come true.
The only investment they could afford: Air mattresses!
Once upon a time, in 2007, there were two broke guys in San Francisco. They had moved from New York, forgetting to get jobs first. Worried about paying their rent, they decided to make a quick buck by renting out air mattresses when a huge conference caused hotels to be overbooked. To sweeten the deal, they threw in breakfast for the $80 a night fee…
Four people claimed those first air mattresses: a 30-year-old Indian man, a 35-year-old woman from Boston, and a 45-year-old father of four from Utah. The two broke guys thought they might have stumbled onto something.
But it would take a few more years to work out the glitches, such as getting hosts to post decent photos of their homes. Oh, and convincing prospective guests that they won’t be robbed, raped, or murdered when staying at private properties. In 2009, their concept started to attract attention. Over 2500 hosts and 10,000 users paved the way for one of the most successful business stories ever. Ten years later, there are more than two million listings in more than 190 countries. Over forty million happy guests and found spots in 34,000 cities. Click here for the timeline of Airbnb.
My first Airbnb stay was in Bordeaux, before I started my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It cost about $60 a might. I wanted to move in! (Photo by Suzanne Ball. All rights reserved.)
Airbnb turns 10–and hotel chains get nervous
In mid-February, one of the founders, Brian Chesky, announced some exciting enhancements that are part of his concept of “building a 21st century company.” Chesky has a bold vision for the next ten years: to host one billion guests.
How will Airbnb do this?
- Airbnb Plus: Hosts with listings that meet a 100-point standard now qualify for a new level. With guaranteed amenities such as high-speed Internet, extra safety features, great linens, and a clean living space, Airbnb Plus approaches what guests would pay more for at hotels. The listings aren’t always luxury, but must meet a higher standard. And they can charge more. The average Airbnb listing is $100 a night; Airbnb Plus hosts can expect to make double that.
- More categories: Just as hotel chains have a variety of brands for different budgets, Airbnb is going to do the same. Right now, users have three options when choosing a listing: Shared, Private Room, or Entire Home. Going forward, look for more options: Bed & Breakfast, Vacation Homes, and “unique” stays like treehouses or yurts.
- Collections: Airbnb is launching nine collections to help guests find the perfect match for their stay. Honeymoons, groups, business…all are easily filtered. There is also a “social stay” collection, where hosts interact with guests.
- Loyalty Program: It was just a matter of time. Guests will earn points, receive discounts, and perks such as transportation and last-minute bookings. A pilot program will start in Spring 2018.
- Easier hosting: Recognizing that “hosts create this magical world,” the company plans to offer incentives to make hosting better. A store that offers deep discounts on common products and devices (think Amazon) will keep hosting costs low. “Superhosts” will get their own URLs and more promotion.
- Experiences and food: Always willing to take a chance and to create an authentic experience for its guests, Airbnb leaps ahead of hotels by finding local guides and unique ways to explore a new city. Excursions to neighborhoods? Food and drink tastings? A private chef? Sure! With its partnership with Resy, software to make restaurant reservations, guests can easily find dinner.
With its nimble business plan and ability to recruit hosts around the world, Airbnb’s future is bright. Hotel chains are realizing that they have competition from this young upstart. Nearly 20 percent of travelers have used Airbnb in the last year…and that percentage is expected to grow. Here’s an interesting article, if you want to learn more.
Have you stayed with an Airbnb host yet? Tell us about it!
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