Skift Take

Not many CEOs would spend Christmas evening engaging in hundreds of conversations with fans and critics alike — and on Twitter no less. But Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is not your average CEO, and what he revealed in his Noel-time tweets gives us a much clearer understanding of where Airbnb is headed in 2017.

It all started with a simple Tweet on Christmas night.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky’s one tweet has, as of Dec. 26, amassed more than 1,400 replies, 351 retweets, and 1,500 likes.

It’s not often that a CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company would take this direct an approach to acquiring feedback and ideas, but it was especially surprising to see this coming from the CEO of Airbnb, no less. The $30-billion San Francisco-based company is known for keeping a tight lid on its corporate communications, and for often wanting to orchestrate all of its messages with the precision of a neurosurgeon.

What followed after Chesky sent his tweet, however was anything but that. Instead, what we received was an incredibly open and candid conversation; Chesky was extremely open-minded, welcoming people to give their feedback, and he personally responded to hundreds of tweets. Those tweets were also imbued with a number of insights into the future of Airbnb, and at a very pivotal time in the company’s eight-year history.

Just last month, the company debuted Trips, its official entry into tours and activities. And just last week, word emerged that Airbnb was very serious about its decision to launch Flights in the near future as well. In short, the company is transforming itself into much more than just a marketplace where you can find a place to stay. One could even argue it’s on its way to becoming its very own breed of online travel agency.

Debating whether Airbnb will succeed in its latest endeavors, and pondering how Airbnb will achieve its goals have become a central topic of discussion in the travel industry — as has wondering just what the company has planned next. By asking the Twitterverse for its thoughts on what Airbnb could, and should, launch next in 2017, Chesky gave us an even better idea of what lies ahead. Here are the highlights.

Hints About Flights

It’s looking doubtful Airbnb will be working with the traditional global distribution systems like Amadeus and Galileo to launch Flights. And it’s going to add an Airbnb twist to Flights, for certain.

The Most Requested

Many Twitter uses had similar requests that fell into one of three categories: loyalty, Bitcoin, and experiences, Chesky noted.

A lot of people want Airbnb to have some sort of a loyalty program. Airbnb doesn’t have a formal loyalty program yet, but in the last few years it has formed loyalty program partnerships with Delta Air Lines, Qantas, and Virgin America.

They also suggested Airbnb look into creating physical spaces of its own.

Or start offering Airbnb-hosted long-term housing.

Bitcoin fans also petitioned Airbnb to accept Bitcoin as payment. After all, Expedia accepts it so why not Airbnb?

More quality control for Wi-Fi is at the top of the list for many Airbnb users.

… As are improvements in group travel.

Many Twitter users also had food-related requests, such as the ability to book a meal at a family home, attend an Airbnb supper club, get discounts at local restaurants, or check out an Airbnb pop-up restaurant.

And, in addition to its partnership with online restaurant reservations platform Resy, it’s likely Airbnb will deepen its overall activity in food and beverage, too.

Future Technology Innovations and Platform Changes

Here are a few changes we can expect to see on the Airbnb mobile app going forward, as well as technology within Airbnb homes.

Dynamic pricing could soon replace Airbnb’s own “smart pricing.”

Airbnb is planning to improve its search functionality, too.

Airbnb will get its own virtual assistant in the near future.

And Chesky believes all homes will eventually become smart homes, too.

Plans for Expansion, Growth in 2017

Here are some hints as to what Airbnb will be focused on next year.

Vacation rentals.


And luxury. In fact, these tweets could serve as prototypes for the rumored Airbnb Lux category that is scheduled to debut in 2017.

Better corporate travel functionality and options could be something Airbnb pursues more going forward, too.

Airbnb may also try to disrupt the car rental industry next.

And expect Airbnb to keep building out its Friendly Buildings program, which works with property managers, landlords, and property management companies to make it easier for tenants to host on Airbnb, and for landlords to do the same.

Making Things Easier for Hosts

Airbnb will be adding a number of services for hosts in 2017, Chesky noted.

Airbnb could have a “host supply store” where hosts can purchase amenities for guests.

More Quality Control for Homes

In 2017, we can expect Airbnb to be curating and editorializing its more than 3 million home listings more than ever before.

Making It Easier for Travelers to Connect with One Another

Chesky said we can expect Airbnb to debut more meet ups, and ways for other like-minded travelers to meet and communicate with one another.

Talking Regulatory Battles and Affordable Housing challenges

While this Twitter thread was primarily about what product Airbnb could and should launch, Chesky did field Tweets that also pointed to Airbnb’s complicated history with short-term rental regulations and restrictions, too.

Chesky also addressed the challenges of affordable housing.

And after being slow to adhere to San Francisco’s short-term rental registration laws, Chesky, it seems, hasn’t hosted on Airbnb for more than a year but he plans on being a host for an Airbnb Trip sometime soon.

Marketing Airbnb

We could soon see Airbnb TV, or Airbnb Radio. In November, Airbnb announced the debut of Airbnbmag, its underwhelming magazine for content marketing.

Perhaps we’ll find Airbnb on Mars someday, too?

And, finally, maybe we’ll see Chesky at the next Skift Global Forum in 2017.


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Tags: airbnb

Photo credit: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaking at the company's Open event in November in Los Angeles, CA. Airbnb

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