Community and connection are key as home sharing gains new advocates
NATE Blecharczyk is someone who believes in walking the
10 years, he has hosted more than 750 Airbnb guests in the San Francisco home
he shares with his wife, Elizabeth. He does it, he says, because he believes in
living the experience that his customers are having.
Of course, Blecharczyk – co-founder of Airbnb, chief strategy officer and chairman of Airbnb China – is no ordinary Airbnb host. He’s one of the three founders of the home hosting site, and the chief strategy officer and chairman, China. Forbes estimates his net worth at US$10.7 billion.
multi-billionaire Airbnb host: Who would have thought?
guests at his home enables Blecharczyk to keep a personal connection to a brand
that has grown, since 2007, to four million hosts and one billion guest
arrivals across the world.
this from humble beginnings when the three Airbnb founders dreamed up a way of
paying rent by allowing guests into their homes.
the simple rent-paying idea is gaining new advocates, significantly in India
where a large percentage of hosts are women.
hosts now represent more than half (55%) of the global host community. Perhaps not surprisingly, in 2021 women hosts
have received a higher share of 5-star reviews (91%) than their male
pandemic, Blecharczyk says, has highlighted many downstream challenges,
including that of loneliness. “People haven’t been able to connect like they
could in the past.”
such, Airbnb’s focus on the recovery from the pandemic is focusing on
“community and connection”.
“People will want to have the connection with other people that they have been missing. They will be looking for meaningful experiences.”
Blecharczyk told the WiT Experience Singapore 2021 audience that the Covid crisis was “a rallying call for our company”.
called for us to muster all our resources and have a very clear focus on our
stakeholders. This has led to more thoughtful decisions on how we navigate the
Blecharczyk says travel “is never going back to the way it was”. Most evidently this is because workers have more flexibility about where they choose to work and where they are allowed to work. The lines between travel, work and living will continue to blur.
“This has huge ramifications for travel,” he said. “Where once there was a fixed mindset on work and travel, the pandemic has changed that. Flexibility is key now.”
who have been working remotely during the pandemic will want to continue to mix
lifestyle with work. Business travel will also see major changes with quick
overnight or two-day business trips being replaced by longer stays in a
business trips that blend work and leisure will be part of the future as travel
becomes less organised around the week-long vacation and more around where
people want to both experience a destination and work.
Airbnb says it is seeing an uptick of about 2.5x in the share of long-term stays for self-reported business travel, and long-term stays (28+ nights) were its fastest-growing trip-length category in Q2 2021.
is also enabling cities to better manage Airbnb business with its new City
Portal resource to help local government better manage demand for Airbnb
officials can access the portal to gain greater insights into Airbnb’s presence
in their neighbourhoods, along with tools to help enforce their laws, and
better access to Airbnb when help is needed.
with assisting cities to regulate Airbnb in their jurisdictions, the company is
also helping them to rebuild tourism, especially in those lesser-known
destinations that are getting to grips with Airbnb.
The City Portal was launched with 18 pilot partners comprised of
local governments and tourism organisations and this number had grown to more
than 100 worldwide – “from Paris to Tasmania,” Blecharczyk says.
By September 2022, Airbnb’s goal is to have more than 250 City
Portal partners across the globe.
“It’s a one-stop shop to help governments understand Airbnb and
issues arising, a powerful tool available off the shelf,” says Blecharczyk.
and education are also part of Airbnb’s response to Covid and its impact on
communities. In Malaysia it has worked with hosts to outline its ‘best
practice’ five-step cleaning process.
As for the future, Blecharczyk said he was unsure whether he might join other billionaire celebrities in space, but Airbnb could get there one day.
“Anything’s possible,” he said.
• Featured image: Nate Blecharczyk in conversation with WiT’s Yeoh Siew Hoon at this week’s WiT Experience Singapore 2021