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forecast to grow, which is anywhere between $3.5 and $15bn depending on who you talk to. The sharing economy is a movement; the age of having to own everything is over and people are quite comfortable – particularly the millennial generation – with sharing. We’re part of a growing phenomenon. “Globally, however, our brand awareness is low still,” continues Hassell. “In the last year it’s changed dramatically, but compared with some of the leading brands we are very small. So there’s a lot of potential for more people to become aware of the brand, try out the experience and become repeat users. We need to sustain the momentum.” Customer experience, or CX, is key to sustaining momentum. There’s often discussion around safety and security in the great Airbnb debate, but Hassell says the peer review system makes it both safe and reliable: “We verify hosts and guests and we encourage our hosts and guests to have an exchange InBUSINESS | Q1 2015

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and make sure they know who’s coming into their home or whose home they’re going to be sharing. It’s peer-reviewed and our users are very generous with feedback. “We also take care of payments: when you book a listing we verify that the payment method works, so a host knows that they have a bona fide payment, but we don’t release that payment until the guest has checked-in and everything is ok. We safeguard that transaction from both sides.” BUSINESS AND BREAKFAST Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky is reputedly still an active host, and the company’s employees always stay in Airbnb properties when they travel for business (and usually also for pleasure), and Hassell says Airbnb is a good option for business trips. “We see business travellers using the platform. Travelling a lot for business can get quite tedious and some guests enjoy the homely experience of staying with a host. It

Airbnb’s Dublin office space, designed by local architects heneghan peng

Aisling Hassell, Head of Global Customer Experience, Airbnb


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InBUSINESS Q1 2015