Airbnb: a travel revolution in the sharing economy

AirbnbYou might have heard the name before or maybe your friends told you about it because they have already used it. Maybe you even tried it yourself. Whether you know it or not, I suggest you keep reading and learn more about Airbnb and its success.

Airbnb is an online platform where anyone can list or rent according to their budget. It may be a room, an apartment, a tree house, a castle, an island, etc. from all around the world.

It all started with airbeds, back in 2008. When the three friends Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, roommates in San Francisco, initially came up with the idea, it was after they had rented out air mattresses in their living room during a conference.

Since the foundation the company, in less than six years they’ve had more than 10 million nights booked in not less than 19,000 cities, in almost 200 Countries.  It is now so popular that every two seconds a booking is done and 50,000 guests stay in one of its properties every night.

All these key figures show that Airbnb is not just another accommodation searching website (see HomeAway, Wimdu, 9Flats, Couchsurfing…).

You might have heard of Couchsurfing for example, a similar American company. As the name says, on this website people can list their spare couch for strangers who are looking for a very cheap place to spend the night at. Therefore this platform, based on the free exchange, is not about the money as there is no real remuneration for the hosts, even though guests will usually seek a non-monetary way to show their appreciation – such as with a gift or cooking a meal. There is a downside, of course… travelers cannot hope to sleep on anything more comfortable than a couch.

On the contrary, Airbnb is about the money. That is one of the reasons behind its international success.  The company is the most flagrant example of the new and growing “sharing economy” in which people rent their underused assets (a house, a car, a bicycle…) directly through an online platform. It is like a modern swapping market where the newest technologies are used for the transactions, thus allowing costs to be reduced to a minimum, and where –in the Airbnb case- apartment owners and renters can make money.

Other than the economical advantages for the hosts, Airbnb has become a global phenomenon because of what it promises to its guests: “ Travel like a Human”.

The slogan of the company says it all, Airbnb is not just about the places, it is about creating a desirable travel experience. From the YouTube channel where users can find videos on « Living Local » plus some guided tours of various cities, to the Airbnb Neighborhoods section on the website, providing tips and guidance for each destination, the storytelling of the brand is built to attract not just “tourists” but humans who want to live an authentic experience anywhere the world.

Hosts in fact will usually give recommendations and advices on the local-approved restaurants and must-see places thus helping their guests have a memorable stay.

If all over the world travelers abandon over-priced and unappealing hotels in favor of more homely Airbnb accommodations, it is not surprising.

The successful San Francisco-based company has managed to combine the interests of hosts: ordinary people who want to gain some extra revenues and meet some international friends, guests and travelers who do not want the typical holiday where they follow hoards of tourists in their sightsee and eat at the hotel buffet.

 And trust me, when you are looking for a last minute accommodation for the night, Airbnb is often the perfect solution.

A moins de 6 ans de sa création, plus de 10 millions de nuit ont déjà été réservées sur Airbnb, un site de mise en relation entre particuliers établi en Californie. Un succès qui n’étonne pas : cette plateforme, reposant sur l‘économie collaborative, permet d’une part à ceux qui disposent d’une habitation de la louer et arrondir leurs  fins de mois; d’une autre, aux voyageurs qui souhaitent louer à moindre prix de réserver une chambre, un appartement, ou encore un château, et même une cabane dans un arbre.

By Silvia ZARDINI LACEDELLI

Photo credits: Airbnb Blog

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