Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky talks local “experiences” feature, addresses discrimination

Airbnb transformed the travel industry in less than 10 years. Founded in 2008 and now valued at $30 billion, it provides a worldwide online platform to connect guests with private room and home rentals.

The company with millions of listings around the world is now expanding to include online restaurant reservations and local sightseeing opportunities called “experiences,” with more than 150 new experiences today in New York City.

“From beekeeping on a roof, to horseback riding in Queens, to a concert in someone’s living room – basically if you have a passion you can share it with another person,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said Monday on “CBS This Morning. “We think when you travel, rather than just going to see a site, you can actually have a really cool experience.”

The inspiration behind Airbnb’s experiences came directly from its community.

“[Hosts] were offering their homes but they started coming to us to say, ‘We’d like to offer more.’ We said, ‘More, like what?’ … Some people said, ‘I would give people a tour of the city’ or ‘I’ll make them dinner,’ and before we knew it, their imaginations kind of showed us a path forward,” Chesky said.

He gave an example of “Dave in Seattle” who has a wolf conservation and wanted to give people a hiking tour of the woods with the wolves.

“Well, Dave is now making $200,000 a year hiking with wolves. So this is actually an amazing opportunity, economically,” Chesky said.

The company has also faced some highly publicized controversies. Recent headlines on racial discrimination by hosts put Airbnb in the hot seat. The company hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to help create a better policy.

“About a year and a half ago, we started noticing discrimination on our platform, and this is something that is in opposition of our mission,” Chesky said. “Our platform only works when people accept each other. So we hired Eric Holder and he helped us create a nondiscrimination policy and now when you sign up for Airbnb, you have to sign a community commitment that says you will not discriminate against people, including allowing people of all backgrounds in your home.”

Airbnb also denied white nationalists who were trying to use the site for a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally.  

“We prevented them from using our site, and of course that created some backlash from those groups,” Chesky said. “But you obviously have to stand up for what you believe in.”

While many U.S. tech companies face…

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