• It all started with an air mattress. It became a cultural phenomenon. But it wasn’t that Airbnb invented the home-sharing industry – far from it. Couch-surfing has been a thing for a long time, but even way, way before that, the ancient Greeks and their community spas offered a communal luxury space devoted to rest and relaxation. By the mid-19th Century, the Industrial Revolution led to the birth of the inn – rooms above bars on people’s horse-and-carriage paths between cities. And when railways came to pass, commutes became easier, and wealthy business travelers demanded giant, opulent hotels in hundreds of cities. 

      As the middle class proliferated, and the automobile became the dominant form of transportation, standardized, affordable hotels cropped up all over the post-war world. The Holiday Inn started a trend of clean, reasonably-priced accommodations that provided a consistent experience in any city. But while they were consistent and predictable, they were hardly interesting. They were in need of disruption, and the Internet helped lead the charge.

      But what happens when the Internet moves into your neighborhood? Enter Airbnb. After floundering for three years and running thin of funding, Airbnb changed their messaging: They corrected market inefficiency and coined the “sharing economy.” It was revolutionary. It was counter-culture. Now, everyone can be a micro-entrepreneur… even without being a homeowner! With 800,000 rooms for rent in 89 countries, it forced the hotel industry to come up with new and exciting ways to provide experiences for discerning clientele. Where will the hospitality industry find itself in the next decade? Find out in this episode of Trailblazers. 

  • “Airbnb [was] this completely fringe idea that no one-- and I mean no one-- thought would work, and grew to become this thing that just grew like wildfire, caught on like crazy with the consumer, and has disrupted the hotel industry and become, really, part of our cultural zeitgeist.”

    Leigh Gallagher, Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune magazine

  • What you’ll hear in this episode

      • Where did the “air” in “Airbnb” come from? 
      • The worst idea that ever worked 
      • Hospitality goes way back to its roots 
      • Why cars and jets necessitated hotel standardization 
      • Affordability and standardization in the post-war US 
      • Can you tell a Hilton and Hyatt apart? 
      • Finally, you can see a hotel before you check into it 
      • What happens when the Internet moves into your neighborhood? 
      • What people really need is a hole in their wall 
      • Disruption doesn’t mean the old guard has to lose 
      • Finding out where people go helps determine what they need 
      • The future of hospitality 
  • Guest list

      •  

      Leigh Gallagher

      Is an editor at Fortune and the author of The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions…and Created Plenty of Controversy.

      •  

      Jan Freitag

      Is the Senior Vice President with premier hotel benchmarking service STR.  

      •  

      Chekitan Dev

      Is a professor of marketing at Cornell University’s school of hotel administration. 

      •  

      George Corbin

      Is the former Senior Vice President for Digital at Marriott International. He is now the Chief Digital Customer Officer at Mars.

      •  

      Alison Griswold

      Is a reporter for Quartz, covering the sharing economy. She formerly wrote for Slate and the Business Insider. 

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