Airbnb

Airbnb is arguably one of the most well-known platforms within the sharing economy. The site allows anyone to convert their spare room or home into accommodation, providing unique and inexpensive accommodation options for tourists worldwide.

Quick Facts

Summary

  • Ranked #185th worldwide
  • Active users 150 M
  • Type Sharing Economy Networks
  • Launched date 11 Aug, 2008
  • Employees 5,597
  • Headquarters San Francisco, California
  • Parent company Insider Inc.

Founders

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Brian Chesky New York
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Nathan Blecharczyk
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Joe Gebbia

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 $18 B
  • Revenue in 2020 $3,378 B
  • Net loss In 2020 $4,585 B

Data Graphs

personvia Statista.com

Current Controversies

Fair housing implications and discrimination

In Jul 2016, former Attorney General Eric Holder was hired to help craft an anti-discrimination policy for Airbnb after the company faced many complaints related to racism, including a study by Harvard Business School that showed widespread discrimination by hosts against guests whose names suggested that they were black. The platform has also faced complaints of racial discrimination in listings in China, particularly against Uyghurs.

Housing affordability

Airbnb has been criticized for allegedly resulting in increased housing prices. Since the company's globalization, many governments have passed various regulations limiting operations of short-term housing rental companies, such as Airbnb.

Negative guest experiences

According to Airbnb, less than 0.1% of 200 million bookings a year result in a reported safety issue.

In 2017, travel blogger Asher Fergusson analyzed 1,021 incidents of negative experiences reported by guests. He found that there are ways for hosts to use fake information to circumvent Airbnb's background checks. He noted several reported incidents including last-minute cancellations, moldy or rodent-infested lodging, theft, invasion of privacy, and even rape and murder. Airbnb responded that the 1,021 incidents are statistically insignificant compared to 260 million check-ins at the time and that the company tries to remedy any problems.

Despite pledging to verify all listings on its platform for accuracy by December 15, 2020, a number of Airbnb's 7 million listings are fraudulent. Airbnb doesn't require a listing address for hosts to bill guests and in cases phones were disconnected after reservations posted.

In 2017, the court case, La Park La Brea A LLC v. Airbnb, Inc, a group of tenants complain about property damage, nuisance, and disturbance that stemmed from Airbnb guests. The building owner incurred costs to preserve safety, repair damages, and evict Airbnb guests.

Bait-and-switch scams

A Vice News journalist reported in October 2019 on a bait-and-switch scam in which a network of fake accounts advertised stays at dozens of properties across eight US cities that once booked was said to be unavailable at the last minute. Substandard alternatives were offered in their place, including to the journalist, refunds were refused, fake positive reviews were left for the fake properties, and negative retaliatory reviews were left for customers who complained.

Airbnb closed some of the accounts and the FBI began an investigation in response to the report. A Wired journalist reported a similar scam in London in February 2020 run by a German man, Christian Baumann, and his company Continental Apartments. Airbnb closed the accounts, but Wandsworth Borough Council planning office took no action.

Delisting of West Bank settlements

In 2018, Airbnb announced that it will remove the approximately 200 "listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians".

Listings in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights were not affected. The move was praised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Palestinians, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. The move was criticized by Israel's Tourism Minister and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which decried the move as antisemitism.

A class action suit in the Jerusalem District Court alleging discrimination based on place of residence was filed against Airbnb by affected property owners.

In Apr 2019 the company announced that it "will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform" and that "Any profits generated for Airbnb … will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world".

Failure to provide required information to government

In New York State it is illegal to rent out an apartment for less than thirty days unless the registered tenant is at home.

In 2018, New York City passed legislation requiring Airbnb and other short-term rentals/home-sharing services to submit monthly reports to the city. Airbnb contested the law and in January it was blocked from taking effect pending further litigation.

In May 2019, Airbnb agreed to turn over some anonymized information for approximately 17,000 listings so that the city could pursue illegal rentals.

Similar cases were settled in Boston and Miami.

Transparency of user data sharing practices with China

In November 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that an Airbnb executive resigned in 2019 due to concerns about a lack of transparency around practices of sharing user data with the government of China. As with all hospitality businesses operating in China, Airbnb shares information such as phone numbers and email addresses with the Chinese government when a user books a rental.

This includes both Chinese citizens and foreign visitors. In 2019, Chinese officials approached Airbnb with an unwritten request for more user data, including more "real-time data". Airbnb said it declined the request and does not share real-time data. Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, who heads the platform's China unit, said, “We’re not here to promote American values”.

Double charging in the Netherlands

In Mar 2020, a subdistrict court ruling in the Netherlands found that instances of Airbnb charging twice — once from the renter and once from the client — was illegal and that those who had rented as guests have a right for re-imbursement if they file a claim.

Airbnb spokesperson said "this ruling is contrary to the ruling of the highest [sic] European judge, who recently decided that Airbnb is not a real estate agent but an information service." It is estimated that close to 30,000 customers are eligible to make a claim.

Airbnb has filed countersuits in an attempt to gain clarity on the ruling.

Philanthropy

PhilanthropyAirbnb launches Open Homes refugee housing platform. (via airbnb.com)

In Nov 2012, Airbnb partnered with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to offer free housing for people displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Airbnb built a microsite, where victims registered for housing and property owners offered free housing. Service fees were waived, while the host guarantee was maintained.

In 2013, Airbnb launched its Global Citizenship Champion program in cities where its offices are located. The program organizes volunteer activities for Airbnb's employees and hosts, and makes charitable donations to "causes important to their local communities."

In Jan 2017, the company offered free housing to refugees and any others not allowed into the United States as a result of Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13769, which temporarily banned refugees from the United States.

In Jun 2017, Airbnb launched Open Homes, to connect hosts offering free or low-cost housing to uprooted people, such as refugees and those fleeing natural disasters. In 2018, according to the company, its employees provided "11,000 hours of service to 250 projects worldwide", as a result of its policy to provide employees with paid time off to be used for volunteering.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

After moving to San Francisco in October 2007, roommates and former schoolmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into a bed and breakfast.

In Feb 2008, Nathan Blecharczyk, Chesky's former roommate, joined as the Chief Technology Officer and the third co-founder of the new venture, which they named AirBed & Breakfast. They put together a website that offered short-term living quarters and breakfast for those who were unable to book a hotel in the saturated market.

The site Airbedandbreakfast.com officially launched on August 11, 2008. The founders had their first customers in town in the summer of 2008, during the Industrial Design Conference held by Industrial Designers Society of America, where travelers had a hard time finding lodging in the city.

In Mar 2009, the name of the company was shortened to Airbnb.com, and the site's content had expanded from air beds and shared spaces to a variety of properties including entire homes and apartments, private rooms, and other properties.

Brief History

2008
Aug The site Airbedandbreakfast.com officially launched.
2009
Jan The company received $20,000 in venture funding from Y Combinator.
Mar The site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.

The name of the company was shortened to Airbnb.com.

Apr The company received $600,000 in seed money from Sequoia Capital.
2010
Nov It raised $7.2M in financing from Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital in a Series A round, and announced that out of 700,000 nights booked, 80% had occurred in the previous six months.
2011
Mar At South by Southwest conference, Airbnb won the "app" award.
May Airbnb acquired a German competitor, Accoleo.
Jul It raised $112M in financing led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Oct Airbnb established an office in London, its first international office.
2012

Opened offices in Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, and São Paulo.

Nov Opened an office in Sydney, its 11th office location, and announced plans to launch the service in Thailand and Indonesia.

Launched "Neighborhoods", a travel guide of 23 cities that helps travelers choose a neighborhood in which to stay based on certain criteria and personal preferences.

Dec Airbnb announced its strategy to move more aggressively into the Asian market with the launch of an office in Singapore.
2013
Sep The company announced that it would establish its European headquarters in Dublin.
Oct Airbnb had served 9,000,000 guests since its founding in Aug 2008.
2014
Apr The company closed on an investment of $450M by TPG Capital, with the company value estimated to be approximately $10B.
Jul Airbnb revealed design revisions to the site and mobile app and introduced a new logo.
2015
Apr Airbnb expanded to Cuba, making it one of the first U.S. companies to do so.
Jun Raised $1.5B in Series E funding led by General Atlantic.
2016
Sep Raised $555.5M in funding from Google Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures, valuing the company at $30B.
Oct New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill charging Airbnb fines for violations of local housing laws.
2017
Jan Airbnb led a $13M investment in restaurant reservation-booking app, Resy, along with serial entrepreneurs Gary Vaynerchuk, Ben Leventhal and Mike Montero.
Feb Acquired Luxury Retreats International, a Canadian-based villa rental company, for approximately $300M in cash and stock.

Airbnb acquired Tilt.com, a social payment startup.

Mar Airbnb raised $1B in funding, bringing total funding raised to more than $3B and valuing the company at $31B.
May They released their magazine, co-published with Hearst Communications, under then-Hearst COO Joanna Coles.
Nov The company acquired Accomable, a startup focused on travel accessibility.
2018
Feb The company announced Airbnb Plus, a collection of homes that have been vetted for quality of services, comfort and design.
2019
Mar Acquired HotelTonight, a website for booking last-minute hotel rooms, for over $400M.
Aug Airbnb acquired Urbandoor, a global online marketplace that offers extended stays to corporate clients. The terms of this deal were not disclosed.
Oct Two million people were staying with Airbnb each night.
2020
Apr Airbnb raised $1B in another round of funding from private equity firms Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners.
May Brian Chesky sent a memo to all employees announcing the layoff of approximately 1,900 employees, or about 25% of its workforce in the Americas, Europe, and Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oct The company became a public company via an initial public offering, raising $3.5B.

Network Features

Search For Last-Minute Accommodation

Last minute accommodation can be quite a hassle but, not with an Airbnb. If you are planning to create a replica of this app, then you must include this feature. How does this work? The homeowners agree to accommodate for same-day bookings. So, when you search for same-day bookings on the app, the owners who have accepted will be shown. Based on your locality and other criteria, you can choose to book the homestay that best matches your requirement.

When you click for same day booking, you will also be asked the number of nights you are planning to stay at the accommodation. The host will be given some amount of time to accept or decline your booking. Once accepted, you have a host to receive you, and a place that will accommodate you for the night.

If you include this feature in your business app, you will increase the bookings and will remove the hassles that people generally tend to face when their meeting is either cancelled or prolonged while they are out of the city. This can help people deal with urgent accommodation needs.

Save Favourite Rental Homes And Places

Visited a particular homestay or looked at something really nice on the app, and believe you want to visit that place soon? Well, you can always save these places on the app and look at it again, when you are finalizing the place. This way you won’t need to search for the place again, and booking it becomes hassle-free.

When you are developing an app like Airbnb, you should remember that the save the favourite place feature should be included as part of the application. This way, people can look at different places, save their favourites or the ones they feel are feasible and made for them. Once they are ready to complete the bookings or, in case of rent a home app they should be ready to visit the house, the save feature will help them track these homes or homestays.

This feature is remarkable as it saves a lot of effort that goes into searching the house again.

Invite Friends With One Click To Plan A Trip Together

Planning a trip with friends can be made easy with this feature. In your Airbnb like app, include the one-click to invite feature, and allow your friends to see the same places that you are looking to book. This makes planning easy. So, if you are planning a trip to Paris, you all are looking at the same homestays, and you can finalize the one that fits your budget and also your requirement.

The whole hassle of chatting, sending screenshots and then chatting some more before you are tired and bored of booking is removed with this feature. What this feature gives your audience is a way of making bookings smooth and easy.

Booking Accommodations, Including Date, Check-In Time And Other Details

When you are aspiring an Airbnb clone, the first thing you ought to offer is a way to book the room easily. The idea is to make bookings via the mobile easy and user-friendly. So, the app should allow you to select date and time via one-click option. Minimal details need to be added to make the bookings.

Your app should offer to use details that are already present in the app to complete the bookings. If you can make bookings easy for the user, you are increasing their experience and boosting the conversions on your mobile app.

Real-Time Alerts And Booking Notifications

When there are some slight changes with your booking, the real-time notifications come to your help.

That’s precisely why it is important for you to include these notifications as part of the clone app that you are developing for your business. the app should send out personalized notifications and alerts based on the browsing behaviour and bookings made by the end customer. This way the engagement with the app will increase, and it will eventually lead to more bookings for you.

Ratings And Reviews To Share Experiences

You should let people know which homestay is good and what are the good things about the homestay to the people who are planning to book it. How will you let them know? Through the reviews and ratings that you have collected from the people who have previously booked these homestays through your app.

Make sure you don’t miss out on this feature and make it a bit user-friendly so that mobile app users to fill in their reviews and ratings.

In-app messaging

You simply cannot avoid this feature if you are building an Airbnb clone. The main reason being this is the only source of contact for your customers, and it makes their life easy too. If they need help with booking or they are facing some issue either with payments or bookings, then your in-app messaging feature should help them just fine. It will give them a chance to seek immediate support and will help them know what are the remedies to be taken immediately.


You can either use bots for customer support and then actual people to reply for the in-app support or, just have actual resources for in-app support. Either way, you will be able to reach out to more customers and enhance the experience and engagement as a result.

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