Skift Take

While Blecharczyk wouldn't say anything about Airbnb's impending IPO, he did reveal some interesting perspectives on how and where he sees the $31 billion company continuing to grow.

Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk said the company has grand designs for being much more than just a travel company but, at least, for now, it’s got travel as its primary focus.

“There are numerous extensions for the business beyond travel, but I think within travel there’s so much we can still do so I think we need to maintain focus,” Blecharczyk told Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali at the Skift Global Forum in New York City this fall.

He pointed to the growth of Airbnb’s Trips business as a primary example, saying “it’s taken off” and noting that some Airbnb Trips hosts have made more than $100,000 in the past year.

Blecharczyk also said the company has “certainly thought about” adding a loyalty program, but it’s still yet to be determined how that program would work.

“I think it’s frankly surprising that at this point we don’t have that,” he said. “Especially at the very least I’d love to do more to recognize our loyal travelers.…I think they deserve some special recognition. We don’t have it. I think we should.”

Blecharczyk’s statements throughout the discussion supported what many in the industry have observed about Airbnb: that it’s a travel company that wants to do more than just travel.

“I think, ultimately, we’re trying to help outsiders feel like insiders,” Blecharczyk said of Airbnb Trips. “Connect them to what’s happening in a city. [That is] just as relevant to local people as well. As our platform has more and more different types of offerings, it could be something more of a regular use or daily app used by local people, long term.”

Blecharczyk also said he sees Airbnb “being a big part of the solution” for overtourism, and that the company, along with technology, “can play an important role in fighting discrimination and social biases.”

Watch the entire interview above, and find more coverage of Skift Global Forum here.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this, as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.

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Tags: airbnb, sgf2017, skift global forum, video

Photo credit: Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk is shown at Skift Global Forum in New York. Skift

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