Started as a means to afford the ever-soaring rent, Airbnb has grown into a wunderkind of the sharing economy with more than 2,000,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities. With a valuation of $25.5B, Airbnb has become as valuable as hotel giants Hilton and Marriott.
Welcome to the 48th edition of magazine B.
While business travelers gravitate toward hotel chains, people taking personal trips tend to prefer boutique hotels with unique designs. Chronic travelers or students, however, may opt for guesthouses, hostels and other alternative accommodations. Whatever the case, finding the optimal place to stay is rarely an easy task. Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, Airbnb is a sharing service that allows property owners to rent rooms or even houses to online users. Although the company is under 10 years old, it has exhibited astonishing growth, being valued at figures that rival those of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and continues to be a key author in the tale of the modern startup.
Before Airbnb, accommodation sharing was mostly limited to companies like Couchsurfing, a service that allows homeowners to offer their couches to travelers for free. Operating on a similar principle, Airbnb applied all the advantages of the digital era to appeal to a wider consumer base, and is going further by offering new possibilities. In the course of building their company, Airbnb’s founders learned that users were interested in more than just accommodations: they wanted the local experience.
Despite all the information provided by travel agencies and magazines, we still tend to have more faith in the advice of locals. For whatever reason, the small eatery recommended by a local looks like it serves better food. The mere idea of a hidden gem known only among the locals is enough to win our confidence, regardless of a place’s actual quality. That’s because to travelers, “local” is equated with “real” or “genuine.” Brian Chesky, one of Airbnb’s co-founders, says that “going is travel, but living is a deeper experience.” With 2 million listings around the world, Airbnb’s greatest asset is the local experience, or a “more authentic” travel experience.
To borrow the thoughts of a travel expert we interviewed, one can’t become a local simply by staying somewhere for a few days, and as such, following Airbnb’s suggestion to “live like a local” requires one to become an actor of sorts; acting like you live there, even if it’s just for a moment. By lounging in a neighborhood coffeehouse, or taking a stroll in a nearby park instead of visiting a crowded shopping district, we trust you will have a more authentic experience.
While working on this issue, I thought of my own Airbnb experience in Italy at the beginning of this year. The host's beautiful dwelling had a sweeping view of the red-tile roofs of Florence. I had departed the home with a heavy heart, as I had accidentally left behind a small scratch on a brand new chair the host had proudly exhibited. She had been more than generous about it. I wonder how she is doing. Perhaps I should send my regards.
Taehyuk Choi, Editor-in-Chief
Hotels vs. Airbnb, in images
Will Hide, travel writer
Impressions from Airbnb users
Airbnb in the media
Company co-founder looks to the future
Bryan Jung, host recognition manager
Five cities, five hosts
Gifts from guests around the world
Hosts and guests whose lives have been changed by Airbnb
Beyond the Home
Local experiences in San Francisco
The birth and rise of Airbnb
Airbnb's funding history
Quotes from the Field
Industry insights on Airbnb and the startup scene
Quotes from the Media
Media insights on the sharing economy
Key players in the shared accommodation market
Noteworthy startups in the sharing economy
888 Brannan St.
A look into the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco, CA
One Fine Stay
Unique Airbnb events
Jonathan Mildenhall, chief marketing officer / Mark Levy, head of employee experience
Airbnb by the numbers
- Publisher Suyong Joh
- Editor In Chief / Creative Director Taehyuk Choi
- Senior Editor Eunsung Park
- Editor Jaewoo Seo, Yeongmin Kim
- Designer Ayoon Jung
- Filmmaker Sukwang Baak
- Marketer Hyunjoo Kim
- Distribution Nohseon Song
- Correspondents Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Lena Shin (LA), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
- Publishing JOH & Company
- The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing
- Peers Inc: How People and Platforms are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism
- The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator
- What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
- The Zero Marginal Cost Society
- Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution