Joseph Michelli: Lessons from Airbnb
by Tim Healy
Every aspiring business owner dreams of achieving major success like that of Amazon, Target, and Google. My guest today knows the challenges that go into achieving this success. His newest book profiles Airbnb, a company that went from startup status to a value of more than $38 billion in just over 10 years. Its success is unparalleled, and lessons from Airbnb highlight the importance of building trust, belonging, and meeting customer needs.
My guest today is Joseph Michelli, author of The Airbnb Way: 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging. In the book, Joseph writes about how Airbnb has achieved unbelievable success over the years, and how its lessons are important for aspiring business owners.
If you missed Part 1 of my interview with Joseph, you can download it here.
Needs of Guests vs. Hosts
The success of Airbnb speaks to a need that people have, whether they are a host or a guest. Listen at 2:10, where Joseph discusses why someone might choose to rent with Airbnb. In some situations, he prefers a traditional hotel, while in others, staying with a host is the right option.
For those who can never imagine hosting a stranger in their home, what is the appeal of Airbnb? Through researching and speaking with hosts, Joseph said he has had his view on human nature changed. He talks at 4:30 about one of the key lessons from Airbnb, which is that many good deeds are done in the world. Hosts genuinely enjoy having guests over, and it is inspiring to see people willing to treat strangers with kindness.
An Airbnb Favorite
During his research for his book, Joseph looked at countless Airbnb stories. At 6:25, he talks about his favorite favorite. One of the most famous listings on Airbnb is Danville, an airplane hangar available right outside of Orlando. Hosts Dan and Deborah have a property with a bar, movie theater, and other luxurious amenities. This property is one example of the unique experiences a guest can find renting through Airbnb.
Earning Customer Trust
The very nature of Airbnb’s services means that trust is essential. Trust cannot be purchased – it has to be earned.
Listen at 10:25 where Joseph speaks on how the company has created trust. One of the key lessons from Airbnb is the importance of constantly evolving to meet customer demands. Today, there exists a guarantee insurance policy for hosts. There is also a rating system for both hosts and guests, and users can be banned.
The Life-Changing Box of Cereal
Hearing about Airbnb’s success can be overwhelming to an aspiring business owner. However, at 13:30, Joseph emphasizes that this success did not come easy. In fact, for a period, Airbnb’s founders couldn’t find an investor for the company. No one believed they could hit the success that they have.
Their solution? During the 2008 election, Airbnb’s founders sold “Obama O’s,” which was nothing more than a creatively packaged box of wholesale cereal. They raised $30,000 through the stunt, which was enough for them to survive. This willingness to be scrappy and creative let them make it another day. One of the lessons from Airbnb? Once you survive enough days in a row, you could find that you’ve hit your goal.
An Open-Minded Ownership
What makes Airbnb’s owners such a successful group? At 15:30, Joseph speaks about the trio’s willingness to ask questions and ask for help. While each individual has his own set of strengths, together the three share a passion for lifelong learning.
This lesson is an important one. When you are trying to start a business, there is a lot that you don’t know. The sooner you reach out and ask, the sooner you will learn. Readiness, opportunity, and luck allow for greater success in business
The Airbnb Impact
Airbnb has no doubt changed the way we travel. Listen at 17:40, where Joseph discusses the biggest impact the company has had on the world. Airbnb has created an economic potential where it may not have been before. It has also unleashed the economic power of homeownership in places across the globe.
Can Hotels Adapt?
Airbnb has seen unbelievable success and has disrputed the hospitality industry. Listen at 20:00 where Joseph weighs in on whether traditional hotels can adapt to changing consumer demands. He says that while hotels initially believed Airbnb was just a trend, they have since started to plan their future around home sharing. Joseph believes in the future, we will see Airbnb start to manage properties, giving consumers as many options as possible.
If you liked my interview with Joseph, downloaded more episodes of The Profit Express to help you on the road to success.