Brian Chesky describes faster, more agile post-pandemic Airbnb – TechCrunch
How the travel agency rebuilt their business during the pandemic and what they see in the future of travel
As we pass from the pandemic to everything that comes next, Airbnb is evolving. The company today announced a major website redesign and introduced a host of features focused on both hosts and guests. In total, the version includes over 100 new features or upgrades, with the aim of increasing and diversifying the company’s offering not only to fuel overall growth, but also to meet changing customer demands.
The changes are coming in response to how travel evolved during the pandemic; Airbnb as a business has also changed.
TechCrunch spoke with Brian Chesky, Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO, to discuss the future of travel, how his company has worked to support a changing market and what it was like to leading the world’s largest travel startup during a global pandemic.
If you’d like to learn more about today’s update, you can check out our article about it here.
TL; DR version is as follows:
- New search flexibility around dates, destinations and match criteria.
- Easier integration and efficiency for hosts.
- Increased and improved customer support.
From a very high level, the first shift is designed to help stimulate demand, the second to stimulate supply, and the third to keep both sides of the market healthy.
TechCrunch’s interview with Chesky follows. It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
TechCrunch: Much of today’s announcement comes from the fact that we’ve been through over a year of the pandemic and travel has evolved, and you’re responding to that. As CEO, you’ve been through so many great times, from IPO to the early days of launch to a long regulatory journey. How does running a business during a pandemic fit into the CEO journey for you?
Brian Chesky: Yeah, Jordan, I would probably say I never thought we would do something as crazy as start Airbnb. I kind of assumed, until last year, that this would probably be the craziest story I ever had. I had no idea that a travel agency during a pandemic could be even crazier than starting a business based on strangers living together. I feel like I’m now 39 and 49. It was definitely the craziest year ever.
Our business first fell by 80% in eight weeks. I say it’s like driving a car. You can’t go 80 miles an hour, hit the brakes and expect nothing really bad to happen. Now imagine you’re going 80 miles an hour, brake hard, then sort of rebuild the car while still moving forward, then try to speed up in an IPO, all on Zoom.