Opponents of Airbnb rally in New York, which last month passed a statute to fine residents who rent out apartments for illegal short-term remains. Photo: Shannon Stapleton/ Reuters
Chesky, who is at 35 one of the worlds youngest billionaires, channelled the spirit of Steve Jobs Apple product launches in Thursdays announcement, wearing all black and promising transformative altered in a slick presentation. Employees, plus some of the 200 journalists Airbnb flew in for the event, cheered and praised.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher will sprinkle Hollywood glitz when they address some of the 7,500 hosts on Saturday.
Chesky billed the companys move as empowering travelers to connect with other people and authentic experiences they would not otherwise have as tourists. The presentation showcased hosts including an astro-photographer in LA, a jazz pianist in Havana and a lifestyle blogger in Nairobi.
Experiences can last a few hours or several days, said the CEO. Half are priced below $200. Everything powered by people. The magic is in the people.
Chesky elicited the companys origin in 2007 when he and co-founder Joe Gebbia started hosting people on an airbed in their San Francisco apartment, a real-life Silicon Valley fairytale.
Its the next really big chapter for us, Chris Lehane, Airbnbs head of global policy, said. It has real potential to fundamentally transform how travel and tourism investments works.
Hosting could be a lifeline for people displaced by robotics and other economic forces-out, said Lehane, a former political adviser to Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Property hosts pay Airbnb a 3% committee. Experience hosts pay 20%. Those who signed up during a trial period earlier this year, and attended the LA event, lauded the collaboration.
Its a boost to my business. I had the structure already, said Kike Correa, 26, who takes clients paddleboarding, snorkeling and scuba diving in the Florida Keys.
Nicole Biondi, 39, has designed a murder mystery tour in Cape Town, South Africa, priced $212, which starts with a hike up Table Mountain. Her first Airbnb clients hailed from Peru, Sweden, Ireland and Britain, she said.
Chuck McCarthy, an L-Abased performer who
supplements his income by walking people, said he was open to becoming a host. If Airbnb reached out to me as The People Walker, Id definitely think about it.
The LA gathering includes seminars and workshops with titles like house empathy through community, leapings of faith: strategic risk-taking, interior design tips-off, determining your inner happy host and has become a 5-star host. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, will give a talk titled creative living beyond fear: traveling with curiosity.
Airbnbs ambition and its hosts evangelical fervor will dismay detractors who accuse the company of driving up rents and ruining neighborhoods by siphoning off rental units for tourist hordes, a criticism hear in
London, Amsterdam, Berlin and elsewhere.
In LA, activists tell Venice, the citys bohemian coastal community, is the worst affected: an Airbnb hotspot where rents have spiked 39% between 2011 and 2015.
Airbnb is used by corporate property purchasers who masquerade as property owners but are simply generating illegal hotels with no consider for Venice as a collection of neighborhoods, filled with neighbours and community, said Mary Anne Thomas, 64, a librarian who is being evicted from the bungalow she shares with her husband and dog.
Philip Henrikson and Mary Anne Thomas are being evicted from their home in Venice, an Airbnb hotspot. Photo: Rory Carroll
Tourists were often loud and disruptive, said Thomas, standing in her yard. People in a neighboring home which towered over the bungalow gazed down as she spoke. Airbnb-ers, she said.
Airbnb denies worsening housing crises in LA or elsewhere, saying it pays taxes which fund low-income housing and offer cash an average of $7,500 per year which helps middle class hosts pay their own rents and mortgages.
Its a platform that was created to keep people in their homes, said Lehane, the head of global policy. Gentrification and homelessness had wider, deeper causes, he said. Were talking about socio-economic trends going back 10 years.