Shaking up our “sharing economy” - How Airbnb used rebellion to revolutionize the hospitality industry

Quick question,

Would you ever let a stranger sleep in your bed?

It’s a question that’s sure to raise some eyebrows and generate an instant “nope!” or two -- but Airbnb has convinced the owners of over 6 MILLION properties to say yes, making it a standout in the growing “shared economy” and dwarfing even the largest of hotel chains. 

But for a company plagued by city housing regulations and a reputation for having (some) hosts who are racially discriminatory in their bookings, getting people to agree that sharing intimate spaces with total strangers was the least of their worries. 

In an initiative to redefine the brand and rewrite its future, the company pulled off a MASSIVE marketing overhaul with a brand-new global Head of Community, Douglas Atkin, leading the way. 

Atkin wanted to get down to the bottom of one very important questions and use that to inform the company’s rebranding: what is the purpose of Airbnb?
After interviewing nearly 500 employees, hosts, and guests world-wide, he and his team learned that above all, people wanted to feel a sense of belonging when they travelled somewhere new.

Armed with this knowledge, Airbnb created guidelines that they hoped hosts would use to create more welcoming experiences for their guests that allowed them to connect with the communities they were visiting from timely 24-hour reply times and little check-in gifts to directories that could help guests understand the house rules and find local favorites fast.

They even held events in major cities around the world to help hosts understand the rental regulations that were in place within their communities and gain insight into what guests were really looking for in their market. 

The goal? Shift the tech company into a brand that was all about hospitality.

Since Airbnb doesn’t actually own or control any of its properties, getting hosts onboard with their new ideas was a critical challenge. 

And while many of the suggested guidelines the company shared echo what hotel chains have done for years (mint under the pillow, anyone?), it’s the personalization that each host brings to their home that makes all the difference and keep loyal Airbnb guests coming back for more.

What started out as an obvious “screw you” to the status quo within the hospitality industry has quickly become a brand valued at $35 billion by tuning in to what makes them unique and consistently looking for new ways to serve and support their guests and hosts at the highest level. 
And that’s what CONSTRUCTIVE rebellion is all about -- not just being different for the sake of being different, but being different because there is an underserved niche that needs you!

It’s something we’ve gone into in-depth in our discussions and mapped out in this free infographic (which is a great place to start cultivating that mindset). 

This Airbnb example is one of our favorite go-to’s but we've got so many more examples from companies and industries all over the globe. Keep an eye out open for our next newsletter!

REBEL & REASON partners with brave brands to eliminate business practices and protocols that aren't producing desired results. Contact us today for a free consultation.