Monday, November 9, 2015

Airbnb is growing up.
The
scrappy startup, founded in 2008, has emerged as a major competitor to hotel
companies around the world—and it has ignited a passionate community of
followers and dissenters alike.
Just this week, it launched partnerships with
Virgin America and American Express, allowing guests to gain frequent flier
miles from their Airbnb bookings or pay for their stays with rewards
points.
And later this week, it'll gather up its top hosts in Paris for a
get-together of epic proportions—proving that the company has strength in
numbers against a host of impending lawsuits in San Francisco and beyond.
If
it all seems like a tipping point for the sharing economy, that's because it
very well may be.
So we talked to Head of Hospitality Chip Conley, a former
executive at Marriott and co-founder of Joie de Vivre hotels, about the
madness that's about to ensue—and what comes next for the now-giant
company.
With most tech companies, an annual conference can be an excuse for big
announcements and product launches.
What can we expect from the Airbnb Open?
The Open is our annual host convention and provides an opportunity for our
community to connect with each other from around the world, as well as engage
with Airbnb employees.
Over three days, 6,000 hosts will share tips and
stories about hosting, hear from hospitality experts, Airbnb founders and
employees, as well as have the opportunity to volunteer their time to give
back to the local community.
How did you pick Paris as the host city this year? Airbnb Open started
in San Francisco last year, and in its second year we are bringing it to
Paris, our largest Airbnb community.
It's been a big week for Airbnb.
Last Monday alone, you launched
partnerships with both Virgin America and American Express.
Does this signal a
bigger evolution for the company? These partnerships extend the overall
value propositions to our community.
We see both as a brand fit with Airbnb
and they put creative effort into their experiences. Talk to me about the
most extravagant listings now available on the site— rumor has it you can
rent entire islands off the Hamptons and billionaire mansions in Dubai.
How
did you go from air mattresses in a San Francisco living room to tapping into
a luxury audience? It's important to remember that Airbnb was built on
the premise of offering unique accommodations across the globe at any price
point.
Luxury isn't new to our platform— we've been offering this
experience from the start.
There's a lot of talk about who Airbnb is for and against.
Who do you see
as your biggest competitors? Hospitality is a large, growing market.
There
is enough room for everyone and we strongly believe we are helping more people
to travel, which is good news for everyone.
Recently, there was news that Airbnb was testing a program that allowed
guests to book entire weekends—excursions, tours, and all—from the
site.
And you've also acquired a flight booking startup, Vamo.
What's the
scoop? We are always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful
experiences on Airbnb.
We don't have anything specific to share at this
time.
As Airbnb broadens its business, it broadens the number of companies that
are threatened by its success.
Are you preparing for a long road of legal
battles ahead? This growth is evidence that home sharing isn't just a
community, it's a movement.
There are literally millions of people around
the world who are excited about working with their friends, neighbors, and
community leaders to educate them about home sharing.
And we're going to
keep working in a constructive and positive way with cities on rules that
protect the middle class and work for their community.
Airbnb's Head of Hospitality on its biggest cities, tapping
into luxury, and why the sharing economy is here to stay.
See the full
interview here.

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