Skift Take

We wonder whether Airbnb's community spirit will survive its growth plans and impending IPO.

Jeroen Merchiers, Airbnb’s managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, might not like using the terms battle and war to describe going up against and Expedia, but he does believe there are some differences between the companies.

Since its launch in 2008, the San Francisco-based company has morphed from a home-sharing platform to more of a generalist online travel agency offering accommodation and now experiences. It also plans to launch flights at some point in the future.

But according to Merchiers, Airbnb won’t abandon its original spirit in its attempt to get the better of the rest of the travel industry.

“Both Booking and Expedia, they do a fantastic job and the growth rates that they’ve seen are tremendous, we’re the newcomer in this, right, so we have the luxury of saying: what do we want the next 10 years of tourism to be and I think it’s pretty clear if you take a look now what is happening… overtourism, unsustainable tourism and so on, it’s becoming an issue and so this is something that we want to be accountable for that we want to try and address it,” Merchiers said at Skift Forum Europe in April.

“So that’s something that I think we take very seriously and it’s also something that I think sets us apart from the others people we talked about: a commodity versus community approach.”

“I think our community can help us solve overtourism by one allowing a broader range of the population to participate in the wealth that is being generated and also some of the decentralization that is happening and that… social connection that travel is missing a little bit, coming back to that.”

You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Forum Europe.

At Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, Europe’s travel leaders gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.

Our inaugural Skift Tech Forum takes place Tuesday in Silicon Valley. Visit our Forum site for details.


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Tags: airbnb, booking holdings, expedia, sfe2018, skift forum europe

Photo credit: Jeroen Merchiers, Airbnb's managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, spoke at Skift Forum Europe in April 2018 about the company's evolution. Skift

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