"As a company we learned very early on that what makes collaborative consumption work, is trust. To meet people in person, get to know them. We opened those offices, not for marketing, not to grow the market that we already have in those cities - we actually opened them to better serve the existing hosts and travelers we have in those cities. The more trust we can build, the better our platform and the better our marketplace will work."Lukesic talked about the personal letters the company gets from hosts talking about the difference hosting has made in their lives. Some hosts are using the money to save their home from foreclosure, to pay for cancer treatments, to quit their corporate job to pursue their passion for music, painting or design, and to retire early. Unlike other global companies, much of the money from Airbnb transactions goes directly into local economies. Money paid to the hosts goes into the community, and travelers spend money at local establishments as they explore. "Community and collaborative consumption go hand-in-hand," Lukesic said. "We are constantly working with cities around the world and our hosts to find ways to better the cities they live in and the communities they're sharing with the travelers that come to visit." Airbnb does something else that not many companies can claim to do: bring different people physically together, and foster the opportunity for them to really get to know each other. In a time where there is such divisiveness in our society, we need to encourage more face-to-face relationships in the hopes of developing tolerance, and even promoting friendship.
"When someone steps foot in your door, or you step foot in someone else's door, something powerful is happening - we are breaking down cultural barriers and connecting people in a real way." Christopher LukesicPerhaps that's the real legacy of a sharing economy - healing our society, one shared dwelling and face-to-face relationship at a time. image: courtesy Airbnb
Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at email@example.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.