How Airbnb Built a Global Business Based on the Sharing Economy

Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is known worldwide as the go-to lodging source for the modern day traveler. Airbnb is a housing-sharing service which offers an opportunity for travelers to find accommodation that is both cheaper and more immersive than a hotel. Since its launch, Airbnb has hosted upwards of 400 million people and has 31 offices around the world.

During NES 2014, Airbnb shared their secret recipe for their success — building their global business based on a sharing economy model— and here are 2 key takeaways based on their successful strategies.

  1. Repurpose an existing topic or challenge and make something new out of it.

With today’s focus on sustainability, repurposing successful initiatives is an effective way to foster growth. The key is not to create new products, but to create new solutions from what already exists. Airbnb used this approach by building on the sharing economy and creating collaborative value. The company’s existence was basically born from a fundamental problem that needed to be solved: two guys who lived in an apartment, could not afford their rent and had to come up with a solution to stay in their apartment. By renting out airbeds to tourists, the idea of Airbnb took off.

2. Treat your customers as business partners.

For as long as Airbnb has been in business, they’ve looked at their community of hosts as business partners and friends. From hosting dinners to events between Airbnb employees and the hosts, the goal has been to create a community with shared values and beliefs and show appreciation for the hosts; without them, Airbnb’s success would not be possible.

Tune in below to learn more about how Airbnb expanded their reach globally using the sharing economy model (and how you can too):