In marketing perception is reality, and airbnb has a specific way it wants to be perceived. Key elements include:
- A leader in the “Sharing Economy”
- A Platform
- A Community
The Sharing Economy
airbnb want hosts to “share” the value of their home and hospitality with strangers in exchange for money. For profit Innkeeping has a long and noble history but is hardly revolutionary. A fuller description of the “sharing economy” can be found in Wikipedia (click here to read). At the end of the article is a section on “Criticism and Controversies”:
“Salon.com and CounterPunch criticized the for-profit sector of the sharing economy, writing that sharing economy businesses ‘extract’ profits from their given sector by ‘successfully [making] an end run around the existing costs of doing business’ – taxes, regulations, and insurance. “
Some consider the “Open Source” computer code movement to be the best example of true sharing.
airbnb is “just” a Platform
airbnb is a website that connects potential guests with hosts. Although airbnb collects payments from the guests and later pays the hosts, it claims no responsibility for the transaction or its outcome because “it is just a platform”. All responsibility falls to the host. This is explained in airbnb’s online Terms and Conditions in the Section on “User Conduct”.
“You understand and agree that you are solely responsible for compliance with any and all laws, rules, regulations, and Tax obligations that may apply to your use of the Site, Application, Services and Collective Content.
In connection with your use of the Site, Application, Services and Collective Content, you may not and you agree that you will not:
violate any local, state, provincial, national, or other law or regulation, or any order of a court, including, without limitation, zoning restrictions and Tax regulations;
offer, as a Host, any Accommodation that you do not yourself own or have permission to rent as a residential or other property (without limiting the foregoing, you will not list Accommodations as a Host if you are serving in the capacity of a rental agent or listing agent for a third party);
offer, as a Host, any Accommodation that may not be rented or subleased pursuant to the terms and conditions of an agreement with a third party, including, but not limited to, a property rental agreement;”
The airbnb Community
While most companies have customers or clients, airbnb defines all who participate (hosts and guests alike) as part of the airbnb Community. This becomes most evident in public hearings where airbnb will recruit and coach Community Members to testify — sometimes holding pre-hearing meetings with snacks.