There are those who think that travel is due to a gloomy winter. And there are those who don’t. “I think there’s a new golden age of travel,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told the Skift Global Forum last week. “Life and travel blur.”
We made similar comments during the pandemic, hailing “a travel revolution” as the world paused. As our big telecommuting experiment continues, stays of a month or more now account for 20 percent of business, Airbnb says. This summer, the company rolled out its biggest changes “in a decade,” including new categories, a “Split Stays” feature that lets guests split trips between different properties, and AirCover, a travel insurance offering.
Whatever you think of Airbnb, it’s impossible to ignore. The first Air Bed and Breakfast came about in 2008 when Chesky and a friend inflated three air mattresses in their San Francisco home. They noticed that city hotels were selling out for a conference and figured selling space on their floors would help pay the rent. You did the math correctly. Today, Airbnb has welcomed more than a billion guest arrivals and has been valued at over $100 billion since going public. It’s a super brand that has brought together words like “Hoover” or “Sellotape” in our everyday language.
It wasn’t all smooth. Its fees can be frustrating, it’s had PR jitters (parties were banned this year), and a 2014 logo upgrade drew some laughs (the “Bélo,” which combines a heart, a location pin, and the letter “A,” was added). but compared on all kinds of body parts).
In Ireland, as in many places, we have a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with Airbnb. Many of us have used it to find apartments for vacations or city breaks. Or maybe you’re one of thousands of Irish hosts who increase their income by renting out rooms (despite Covid-19, the average host in the EU made just over €3,000 last year). But you’ve certainly also been concerned about the platform’s impact on our housing and rent crisis.
“We know we have a problem and that Ireland has a problem,” said Amanda Cupples, Airbnb’s general manager for Northern Europe Irish Independent lately, while denying that this is a major cause of housing shortages. New rules for short term and holiday rentals are expected to come into force in the coming months, including a landlord register overseen by Fáilte Ireland.
It’s a tricky balancing act. Ireland’s housing and rental markets are clearly in dire straits. But short-term rentals have always been a part of tourism, travelers clearly want what Airbnb offers, and what would happen to hotel prices if Airbnbs disappeared from the picture?
This is not just an Irish problem. From Berlin to Barcelona and New York, similar debates continue, and Airbnb continues to work with governments on short-term rental issues. It’s not going away anytime soon.
Key to Airbnb’s success is a relentless drive to innovate and to extend its tentacles to other areas of travel — think restaurant reservations in the US, or “Airbnb Experiences,” where local businesses promote everything from couples photoshoots in Dublin to Ghost Tours Kilkenny.
In the future, Chesky says, travel will be “less about sightseeing, less about that business meeting, and more about human connections, whether it’s with businesses or relationships.” It’s come a long way from air mattresses.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/a-new-golden-age-of-travel-how-airbnb-went-from-airbeds-to-super-brand-42024180.html “A New Golden Age of Travel” – How Airbnb went from airbeds to superbrand