Together, Nathan Blecharczyck and David Rowan will explore the underlying principles of the “sharing economy”, in general, and the global growth of home sharing, in particular. Europe is embracing the sharing economy, a part of which – home sharing – has already become common practice. How do innovations like these benefit travelers worldwide? AirBnB, for example, allows for authentic travel experiences, and connects communities and cities across the world.
Nathan is the co-founder and CTO at Airbnb. He oversees the technical strategy of the company, and is dedicated to building a team of world-class engineers to keep Airbnb at the forefront of the industry - and in Munich he stays in an AirBnB apartment, of course. He chose Glockenbachviertel for his stay during the DLD conference. Why not? AirBnB is growing really fast and is operation in 109 countries by now. 2015 was an incredible year for them. In company's history they hosted 70 million guests, half of them only in 2015! On New Year's Eve one million guests stayed with them in one single night - a record for the sharing economy company. Most of them are from Europe, where the company is very popular. But Cuba, which was added in 2015, and China are fast growing markets for AirBnB.
Not only home sharing is now part of the company. AirBnB is offering a business program and traditional vacation rentals to create an unique travel experience. AirBnB also tries to think beyond travel because people often want to experience neighborhoods, communities and their hosts while others won't like to do it. At the moment AirBnB is still a small company with it's 2,000+ employees, but it's a challenge for it, because half of them where hired in 2015. This is a lot of new blood coming into a company and AirBnB is rethinking its operations, how they do things.
What about the curation of properties? How does AirBnB ensure quality control? 109 countries and a fast growing amount of properties are not easy to handle. But there are some functions included to ensure a high quality, e.g. privately feedback to hosts. AirBnB also enabled a superhost program for hosts with highest reviews and every quarter they add more and more hosts. At the moment 95,000 superhosts are operating on AirBnB. Yes, there is a minority of issues in the media. AirBnB is an interesting player, interesting for media, for gossip and some stories are going viral. 35 millions bookings in 2015 resulted to 540 damages of over 1000 dollars - that's peanuts and it shows the power of the marketplace.
David Rowan talked about the regulations in some cities. Barcelona for example don't want AirBnB in the city and is charging 60,000 Dollars fine for it. But AirBnB is communicating with cities and ask for regulations, but specifically for home sharing. As a role model Nathan mentioned Amsterdam. AirBnB started a partnership with the dutch capitol two years ago to help the city to understand what's this new activity "shared economy". AirBnB believes strongly in home sharing and does not see itself as a disrupter. No hotel chains go out of business because of AirBnB, Nathan said on stage. They just offer more choice and the travel business is a growing pie. Everyone will get its piece out of it. For the future, AirBnB hopes to bring more people together, making the world a smaller place, help to understand different cultures and how others live.