Apr 12, 2024

Airbnb: Welcoming the World, Transforming Travel

Airbnb may be known as a successful global brand today, but it had humble beginnings. It started in 2007 when Joe Gebbia emailed his roommate Brian Chesky with an idea to “make a few bucks”. 

There was a design conference in town and hotel rates were prohibitively high, so why couldn’t they rent out some space at their apartment for a small fee? It wouldn’t be as flashy as a hotel, but they could offer the basic essentials to conference attendees at a fair price. 

That idea - which became the Airbnb platform - has gone on to make Gebbia and Chesky quite a few bucks, and is now a $100-billion publicly trading company. 2023 saw 448 million bookings on the platform: more than double from five years previously. 

Their simple slogan, "belong anywhere", has redefined our idea of accommodation. Where once we expected to need a hotel for our travels, for business or for pleasure, we now have the option of “living like a local” at an Airbnb. 

How did such a simple idea have such far-reaching effects? What can we learn from Airbnb’s undoubted marketing success even in times when survival seemed improbable? And how is the company leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence to boost customer experience? 

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Clark Boyd
Clark Boyd

Clark Boyd is CEO and founder of marketing simulations company Novela. He is also a digital strategy consultant, author, and trainer. Over the last 12 years, he has devised and implemented international marketing strategies for brands including American Express, Adidas, and General Motors.

Today, Clark works with business schools at the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Columbia University to design and deliver their executive-education courses on data analytics and digital marketing. 

Clark is a certified Google trainer and runs Google workshops across Europe and the Middle East. This year, he has delivered keynote speeches at leadership events in Latin America, Europe, and the US. You can find him on X (formerly) Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slideshare. He writes regularly on Medium and you can subscribe to his email newsletter, hi, tech.

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