The billionaire Airbnb host who keeps his word
Community and connection are essential as home sharing gains new advocates
NATE Blecharczyk is someone who believes in the spoken word.
In 10 years, he has welcomed over 750 Airbnb guests to the San Francisco home he shares with his wife, Elizabeth. He does it, he says, because he believes in the experience of his clients.
Of course, Blecharczyk – co-founder of Airbnb, Chief Strategy Officer and Chairman of Airbnb China – is no ordinary Airbnb host. He is one of the three founders of the domestic hosting site, and the chief strategy officer and president, China. Forbes estimates his net worth at $ 10.7 billion.
A multi-billion dollar Airbnb host: who would have thought?
Welcoming guests to his home allows Blecharczyk to keep a personal connection with a brand that has grown, since 2007, to four million guests and one billion guest arrivals around the world.
All of this from humble beginnings when the three founders of Airbnb devised a way to pay rent by allowing guests to enter their homes.
Today, the simple idea of paying rent is gaining new supporters, significantly in India where a large percentage of guests are women.
Female hosts now represent more than half (55%) of the global host community. Unsurprisingly, in 2021, female hosts received a higher share of 5-star reviews (91%) than their male counterparts (89%).
The pandemic, according to Blecharczyk, has highlighted many challenges downstream, including that of loneliness. “People haven’t been able to connect as they could in the past. “
As such, Airbnb’s focus on recovery from the pandemic focuses on “community and connection.”
“People will want to connect with other people they missed. They will be looking for meaningful experiences.
Blecharczyk told WiT Experience Singapore 2021 public that the Covid crisis was “a rallying cry for our company”.
“We are asked to bring all our resources together and to focus very clearly on our stakeholders. This has led to more thoughtful decisions on how we are going through the crisis. “
Blecharczyk says travel “will never be like it was before”. Obviously, this is because workers have more flexibility as to where they choose to work and where they are allowed to work. The boundaries between travel, work and life will continue to blur:.
“It has huge ramifications for travel,” he said. “Where there was once a fixed mindset about work and travel, the pandemic has changed that. Flexibility is the key now.
Millennials who worked remotely during the pandemic will want to continue to mix lifestyle and work. Business travel will also see major changes, with quick overnight or two-day business travel replaced by longer stays in a destination.
Longer business trips combining work and leisure will be part of the future, as travel will become less organized around weeklong vacations and more around places where people want to both discover a destination and work.
Airbnb says it is seeing an approximately 2.5-fold increase in the share of long-term stays for self-reported business travel, and long-term stays (28 nights and more) has been its duration category of fastest growing journey in the second quarter of 2021.
Airbnb is also making it easier for cities to manage Airbnb activities through its new City Portal resource to help local government better manage demand for Airbnb homes.
Government officials can access the portal to better understand Airbnb’s presence in their neighborhood, as well as tools to help enforce their laws and better access to Airbnb when help is needed.
In addition to helping cities regulate Airbnb in their jurisdictions, the company is also helping them rebuild tourism, especially in lesser-known destinations that are preying on Airbnb.
The City Portal was launched with 18 pilot partners made up of local governments and tourism organizations and that number has grown to over 100 worldwide – “from Paris to Tasmania,” Blecharczyk says.
By September 2022, Airbnb’s goal is to have more than 250 City Portal partners around the world.
“It’s a one-stop-shop to help governments understand Airbnb and the issues that come with it, a powerful off-the-shelf tool,” says Blecharczyk.
Training and education are also part of Airbnb’s response to Covid and its impact on communities. In Malaysia, he worked with hosts to define his “best practice” five-step cleaning process.
As for the future, Blecharczyk said he’s not sure if he could join other billionaire celebrities in space, but Airbnb could one day make it happen.
“Anything is possible,” he said.
• Featured Image: Nate Blecharczyk in conversation with WiT’s Yeoh Siew Hoon at this week’s WiT Experience Singapore 2021