Airbnb is the world’s leading travel community that allows people to access a comprehensive range of travel services such as finding places to stay, meeting local people, exploring new destinations and tasting local cuisine. Airbnb has emerged as the disruptor in the hospitality industry and is giving a tough competition to conventional operators such as hotels and resorts.
Airbnb has benefitted both ends of the spectrum by providing affordable hospitality services to travellers and allowing millions of people across the globe to monetize their property, skills and talents. It has empowered people to earn rental income from their properties such as apartments, villas, tree houses, castles, B&Bs, etc. Airbnb currently operates in more than 191 countries.
The idea for Airbnb came when founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to raise money to pay their rent. There was a conference taking place in San Francisco at that time and the founders noticed that many attendees could not find accommodation since the hotels were already booked. The founders thought about the situation and came up with the idea that they should provide air mattresses in their apartment and rent it out to the attendees who could not secure accommodation in a hotel.
The idea clicked and the founders were able to earn a decent amount of money in their first entrepreneurial venture. The founders then thought about transforming the idea into a full-time business, which eventually led to the launch of Airbnb in 2008. Airbnb has grown significantly since its launch and had registered revenue of $2.6 billion in 2017. Airbnb’s net worth has already surpassed that of Hilton and Wyndham and is on track to surpass Marriot.
Airbnb is not just about finding affordable places to stay. Travellers can use Airbnb to find local people and discover new ways to explore a region. It could be about travelling to previously unexplored destinations, experiencing local art and culture, or tasting local cuisine. In a conventional holiday package, one would get the usual stuff like the most visited tourist destinations. Hotels also charge a hefty amount for their travel itineraries. In comparison, Airbnb is like finding a home away from home, which turns out to be much cheaper and a lot more exciting and engaging. Travellers also get the satisfaction that their money is going to local people, which is economically empowering for them.
Airbnb does not own any real estate on its platform. It acts as a peer-to-peer property rental platform, facilitating stays and travels in hundreds of cities globally. Airbnb earns commission on each booking, which is the primary source of revenue for the company. Airbnb has adequate security mechanism that helps prevent misuse of the platform by criminals or unscrupulous people. Insurance against property damage is also provided by Airbnb. Till 2017, Airbnb had received funding worth $3 billion and was valued at $31 billion. The company continues to grow by adding new towns and cities and new property listings on its platform.