I wish all 640,000 Airbnb hosts could have experienced the enchanted magic that happened in San Francisco last weekend. With the 1,500 Airbnb Open host attendees ranging in age from 21 to 84 from every continent (excluding Antarctica) and 40 countries, we had such a beautiful diversity of hosts. Yet, there was a universal and resonant consistency amongst all this diversity. You love to host and you aspire to be the best hosts in the world. And, being surrounded by like-minded others truly inspired and encouraged you beyond your (and our) imagination.
Let me share some of the lessons I learned from you during these amazing three days.
- You have fabulous ideas of how Airbnb (and our hosts) can improve so we need to continue to get better at listening to you and taking action on your feedback. After my Hospitality Moments of Truth tour in which I came back from meeting hosts and teaching hospitality classes in 17 cities, I told CEO Brian Chesky that the number one thing hosts wanted was the feeling like they were listened to and respected. That was a key theme of the Open, whether it was at the Airbnb Fair, during the Product, Design, and Citizenship Roundtables, or just casually on breaks: how can we listen better? This is a part of the reason we started surveying hosts more regularly earlier this year and we’ll be using our NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys more often, plus we will dive into your post-Open survey that attendees will be filling out. Expect even more time allocated to conversations at next year’s Airbnb Open.
- You love feeling you can influence the Product team to make a better host and guest experience on Airbnb’s website. One of my favorite segments of the Open was to see your elated response to our Head of Product Joe “Joebot” Zadeh’s presentation showing you all the improvements we’ve made to our website and mobile product keeping you in mind: better calendar functionality and better vetting of new Airbnb guests (encouraging use of photos, etc…). You will be hearing more soon about what our product team has in store for 2015.
- You want more opportunities to experience and share host education. While there were some opportunities for Airbnb leaders to teach classes, your level of enthusiasm for the host-led education was remarkable. We are starting some pilots around how experienced hosts mentor new hosts in Paris and other places and we feel encouraged to grow these efforts. And, we will continue to use our monthly Hospitality newsletter and blog as a means of growing host learning.
- You want Airbnb to emphasize quality over quantity. Here’s what one host said to me earlier this year on my tour: “Quantity will never create quality, in fact, quite the opposite. Airbnb’s reputation may diminish if you’re so focused on the number of worldwide listings. But, at your size now, quality will lead to quantity as quality will increase guest demand and word-of-mouth. More guest demand will create more hosts for you.” We will use Hospitality Standards, new host onboarding education, the Superhost program, and local awards programs as means to improve those hosts who are struggling as well as recognizing those hosts who are helping to build the reputation of Airbnb as a quality platform for homesharing.
- You want us to share our regulatory lessons we’ve learned in cities/countries where we’ve successfully changed laws (France, Amsterdam, Portland, San Francisco, etc…) so that you know how you can influence regulators and legislators in your municipality. We’ve had some high-profile wins when it comes to changing 20th century laws to allow 21st century homesharing. Yet, being in 34,000 cities, Airbnb’s legal and public policy team can only do so much. It’s clear that you want more information about how you and your neighbors can make a difference in your own community so we will be sharing more suggestions with you.
- You want to see each other again at least once a year. The Airbnb Open felt like a healthy and rewarding family reunion. We’re excited to come to Europe a year from now with a much larger event than the one we just did in San Francisco so that more hosts can participate because our waiting list this year far surpassed the 1,500 hosts who could attend this year. But, we don’t want to sacrifice the sense of intimacy and connection that was fostered at the 2014 Open. It is very clear that the Airbnb Open can become the most passionate, grassroots hospitality event on the planet each year. We’re excited to continue this new tradition next year in Paris (likely in late October or November). We will likely announce the dates in the first quarter of 2015.
Our connection with you all isn’t a series of transactions. It’s a relationship built on trust, communication, and mutual respect. While you have a transaction with a customer or client, you have a relationship with a partner. This event was truly transformational for us as a company, and we have realized you are truly our partners. Together, we’re creating a whole new way of doing business.