The Story Of Airbnb
Airbnb is a story of the pure, unadulterated hustle of two young men – Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky. It all started in 2008. The International Design Conference in San Francisco saw an influx of visitors into the city and every hotel was booked. Unemployed and having recently moved from New York, Joe and Brian thought of an idea to earn some quick cash. They rented out the three airbeds in the spare room of their apartment at $80 per night. To make it lucrative, breakfast was thrown into the package. The two called their new endeavour “Air Bed and Breakfast,” referring to the air beds the guests would be using. The idea was a success and they had their first three guests. This incident sparked the desire to develop a website where people could book someone’s home anywhere in the world. After a series of setbacks, low funding and a name change to Airbnb, the company finally kick-started in 2009. Today, Airbnb blankets more than 81,000 cities, 191 countries worldwide and is a $30 billion company. It is a behemoth in the hospitality sector that has the hotel industry running scared.
It is no doubt that Airbnb has bought about a revolution in the lodging world by providing affordable alternatives to hotel rooms. The visitors have new options to stay, new experiences to unfold and an opportunity to live like a local, something fancy hotels with generic rooms cannot offer. It allows real estate property owners, holiday cottages, apartments, homestays, hostels and homeowners to participate. People can advertise their properties for tourists to rent for short periods of time for extra cash.
Three years ago when the family travelled all over the UK and Ireland, we booked Airbnb wherever we went. We squealed in delight as we stepped into the lovely caravan in Pwllheli. With a fully fitted kitchen, a lounge and super comfy bedrooms our two days were like living a dream. Dreams we conjured up in childhood as we read Enid Blyton’s “The Caravan Family”.
The travel gave us an opportunity not just to live in beautiful properties but also to savour the company of its owners and to soak in the way people live in the neighbourhood. In Glasgow, Stephen, our host welcomed us into his large family house and introduced us to his son, Mark. An amateur pianist, Mark played some amazing notes that filled the house with joy. For the days his property gets booked, both father and son shift into the house of Stephan’s girlfriend, Stella. “To become a host on Airbnb is wonderful. It brings us extra cash and since we live here on free days, we are able to maintain the property,” mentioned Stephan between sips of coffee. Airbnb not only gives you a taste of how people live their lives but it also helps build connections.
The Star of the East is a converted historical pub in Shoreditch, East London. A winding staircase stacked with books and quirky artefacts leads the way up to the room. The first floor is open plan with beds at one end and a freestanding cast iron bath at the back. One may find it odd to have a bathtub partitioned from the bed by a screen but the whole setting was hopelessly romantic and we loved the quirky place. Moreso, since it housed people like Thomas Wilkins in 1856, it felt great to be enjoying the same experience. Great location, competitive prices, history soaked residence, a fantastic neighbourhood with hip bars and restaurants and the nearest station, Hoxton a ten min walk, this one was an Airbnb experience we won’t forget.
Summer houses, luxurious villas, romantic chalets, thatched cottages, studios, big houses, tiny houses – Airbnb has it all. The increase in listings for India shows its growing popularity. Moreso, collaborations with furniture houses, artists and bedding companies add money for some house owners. If the guests like a piece of furniture or a piece of art decor item, they can purchase it off the apartment. The Artist’s mansion in the very upmarket central area of Jaipur is designed by the artist Shan. The house has a kitsch design style of bright handpainted walls and art. Shan’s art studio is also in the house and one can see his artwork at display all around the house. A stay at the property promises an unforgettable experience of the pink city for any traveller.
The Success of Airbnb
The success of Airbnb can be attributed to a number of factors – Greater interaction with customers, creating their own digital guide, the addition of services in the city, highlighting every city’s interesting activities and features and helping the benefits of tourism spread to local farmers, small businesses and their community. Last year, Airbnb partnered with the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation to help women in rural Rajasthan to play hosts and open their homes to tourists from around the world. This partnership aimed at promoting local culture, art and handicrafts made by the local women.
Instead of travelling, one can now use Airbnb to line up weekend activities by pairing up with a host in that city. In this manner, they are helping like-minded people get together. The tourists benefit from a wide choice of Airbnb accommodations and find experiences based on their interest and the part of the city they choose to stay in.
Is all hunky-dory then in the Airbnb world?
Airbnbhell.com lists scams, shady policies and stories of horrible customer service. They enlist the risks and dangers of using Airbnb. The rise of Airbnb has also led to a boom in housing rentals by limiting the availability of long term lets. It is easier to make a buck by letting out each room per day than by renting it out for a month to a resident.
Despite these horror tales, Airbnb is a unicorn and the future of millennial travel. With innovation, persistence, and scalability, Airbnb has made prodigious strides to become the successful startup it is today.
Picture Credits: Airbnb