Airbnb Open 2016, an event primarily for Airbnb’s host community, was held this year in downtown LA late last week, and saw a wide range of milestones from the fast-growing technology company. Vaster was privileged to attend, and like Airbnb, we at Vaster know the magic of travel happens when you connect people.
Airbnb’s major announcement was the launch of Experiences, a next step to connect people, this time based not on accommodations, but preset tours of a few hours to several days. You can watch the Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb announce the new features here, or whole keynote here.
Connecting with these amazing hosts and superhosts was a fantastic way to learn, not only about Airbnb, but also about the changing nature of travel, and confirms what we know about the amazing difference it makes when you connect with a local expert. In fact, the event was as much an exhibit of LA’s attempt to revitalize the downtown core for tourism, as it was a big opportunity for the host community to be heard by Airbnb.
Still, there are challenges ahead for Airbnb. Regulations continue to be navigated on a Country, State, and Municipal level. There are concerns by many that Airbnb displaces long term rentals in favour of short term, and can potentially crowd out more affordable living arrangements for locals. This is possible, and Douglas Quinby, of Focuswright states that some dedicated Airbnb development is already starting to occur. On a more positive note however as we heard from several hosts, it also lowers the obstacles to unlocking real estate assets that would otherwise never help the owners or guests.
The most encouraging message for us at Vaster was the recurring theme of people making the difference. We couldn’t have agreed more, and while Airbnb seeks to connect for accomodations, and now experiences, we at Vaster know that still leaves a huge number of questions travelers have, and we now know even better some of the people who want to be there to answer them.
There is a lot to watch regarding the future of Airbnb and the travel industry. We at Vaster look to make travel easier no matter which way regulations go.