This case study, prepared for the Collaborative Economy course taught by Rachel Botsman at Said Business School, aims to answer what makes Airbnb a revolutionary travel company. Since its founding in 2008, what challenges has the company faced? What has it discovered about itself and its community along the way?

Case study questions:

  1. What is the significance of shifting Airbnb’s emphasis from a place to stay to a global community as the company grows even larger?
  2. After Chesky and Gebbia’s grassroots research project in New York City, they introduced the photography program. What does this program add to Airbnb, beyond the “Verified” status and quality photography?
  3. The Disney disaster: What is written into Airbnb’s culture that is demonstrated by the handling of this debacle?
  4. The EJ experience taught Airbnb some brutal lessons about management and trust. As the company grows, what are the pros and cons for users of this increased visibility? How did the founders use their lessons learned?
  5. What lessons can be learned from enabling members to customise the new Airbnb ‘Bélo’ logo for themselves?
  6. What are the benefits and drawbacks of no clear boundary between the Airbnb company and its community of members?
  1. The core ideals of Airbnb sometimes seem to be in conflict with its enormous growth. How can a business that is growing so quickly hold onto its values?




Citation: Botsman, R, and Capelin, L. Airbnb: Building a Revolutionary Travel Company. Said Business School Case, April 2015. (Revised January 2016)