Skift Take

If Airbnb is selling the dream, it needs to live by it too. Other travel firms that used work-from-anywhere messaging in their marketing these past two years probably now need to do the same.

Are we surprised Airbnb is offering fully remote work opportunities to its employees? Of course not. It’s selling the dream, so the short-term rental giant needs to live by it too.

UK general manager Amanda Cupples alluded to as much last month at Skift Forum Europe when asked if Airbnb would extend its work-from-anywhere policy beyond September: “We will walk the walk on the talk we’re talking.”

Who else is going to walk the walk?

That a brand as recognizable and global as Airbnb moved ahead on this is a major statement. In fact, most online agencies, accommodation players and other travel firms will have embedded, if not placed front and center, touted work-from-anywhere messaging in their marketing over the past two years.

Airbnb’s announcement on Thursday by CEO Brian Chesky comes as the lines are blurring between work, home — and life, in general. That’s forcing changes in strategies, as corporations and more and more travel players seek opportunities in a remote working world. Everyone is feeling their way through the post-pandemic landscape.

Still, few big-league companies in the travel industry have committed to a remote stance like this, or at least so publicly. Tour operator TUI switched to remote last year, in the UK, including offering its resorts around the world as perks to staff. Ridesharing firm Lyft last month announced a fully flexible workplace. (For the record, Skift gave up its offices during the pandemic and became as a fully “dispersed” global company.)

But most are probably waiting, perhaps dangerously, on the sidelines. Speaking at Skift Global Forum 2021, Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel said he appreciated the “great quitting” was taking place globally, but back then said he wanted to experiment with office reopenings first, and examine the data. The pandemic hadn’t quite finished, after all. It still hasn’t.

Of course, there’s an element that Airbnb’s move is a recruitment tool, but it lays down a challenge to others to follow suit.  An explosion of new job opening ads are now fully promoting “Remote” as a selling point.

Perhaps most importantly, Airbnb’s policy will leverage its host network so employees can make the most of their flexible futures. You couldn’t ask for a more defining example of the blurring of lines between our professional and working lives.

There’s no reason why countless other travel companies can’t offer a similar fusion between their own workplace culture and the actual product they’re selling. Airbnb is drawing a line in the sand, and that might be just the impetus they need.


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Tags: airbnb, business travel, corporate travel, future of lodging, remote work, short-term rentals, travel management

Photo credit: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaking with Skift Founder Rafat Ali at Skift Global Forum in New York City on Sept. 21, 2021.

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