Excerpt from Inverse
Airbnb offers its users a roof over their heads when they’re away from home. That, when it comes down to it, is what the Silicon Valley giant does. However, the man in charge of Airbnb’s hospitality says there’s something even more fundamental at the core of what Airbnb does that makes it so successful. Chip Conley, a hotelier with 30 years of experience under his belt, sees Airbnb as a boutique, personalized hotel taken to the next level. Airbnb is just the newest, most refined version of an old idea — one that’s come into vogue now that the experience of staying somewhere is as important as where someone stays.
Conley, who came over to Airbnb in 2013 as its Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, knows what he’s talking about when it comes to personalized lodging. In 1987 founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which would go on to become the world’s second-largest boutique hotel chain. While speaking at San Francisco’s Worlds Fair Nano, a recent futurist convention, he explained how Airbnb’s greatest strength was actually a natural next step in the history of hotels and leisure travel.
As hotels changed from uniform rooms to more exciting ventures like hotel cruises and boutique hotels, it’s become clear that the greatest change to the hospitality industry was how travel became more and more accessible as the American middle class emerged.
“The more experienced you were as a traveler, the more you wanted to actually have a localized experience and something that felt unique,” said Conley explaining that this is what allowed Airbnb’s most banal feature to become its strongest selling point. After all, there is nothing more personal than staying in someone else’s home.
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