• July 25, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The 2016 CRM Market Influential Leaders: Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia, Cofounders, Airbnb

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The consumer-to-consumer sharing economy is now in full swing, and it’s largely due to the efforts of Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s three cofounders.

Airbnb, which started in 2008 in Gebbia’s San Francisco apartment, enables entrepreneurially minded people to rent their spare bedrooms, homes, weekend-getaways, castles, or other vacant real estate holdings to complete strangers. It now offers more than 2 million listings in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries—more lodging than any other hotel chain in the world.

In launching Airbnb, Blecharczyk, Chesky, and Gebbia revolutionized the way consumers think about travel, displaced the hospitality industry’s established players, and generated billions in revenue for themselves and their hosts. The company last year was valued at $20 billion, and this year is poised to see its first profit.

Airbnb’s primary source of revenue comes from service fees from bookings. It collects between 6 percent and 12 percent of every booking, depending on the price. Airbnb also charges its hosts 3 percent from each guest booking for credit card processing.

In the process of building their empire, Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO, Gebbia, the company’s chief product officer, and Blecharczyk, its chief technology officer, have digitally disrupted the hospitality industry.

The company has capitalized on the ability of hosts and renters to easily connect via the Web and social media. Participants can include reviews and shared social connections with their profiles to build reputation and trust among users. Other elements of the Airbnb profile include user recommendations and a private messaging system. In addition to personal information, hosts are expected to provide details such as price, amenities, house rules, images, and features of the neighborhood where the property is located.

All combined, this makes for a very rewarding experience, according to Nicholas Klisht, director and chief evangelist at Converticulture, a provider of business training, coaching, and consulting services. “An Airbnb stay is better than staying in a traditional hotel room,” he says.

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