Summary of The Airbnb Way

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  • Well Structured
  • Background
  • Concrete Examples


Five factors – belonging, trust, hospitality, empowerment and community – drive Airbnb’s remarkable success, according to customer experience expert Joseph A. Michelli. He reports that the company tries to encourage people to see one another as trustworthy and to foster the concept that travelers can experience a sense of belonging everywhere. To that end, he says, Airbnb wants to assist its hosts in offering service with warmth and compassion. Michelli’s super positivity about the company can be a little overwhelming, but he provides value for travelers seeking more information about Airbnb and for executives who are passionate about customer service.

About the Author

Joseph Michelli, PhD, is a prolific best-selling author, speaker and organizational consultant who focuses on the customer experience. His other books include Driven to Delight, Leading the Starbucks Way, The Zappos Experience, Prescription for Excellence and The New Gold Standard.



Airbnb accommodates millions of travelers worldwide. Five values drive its success.

Airbnb, an online service that enables travelers to book guest rooms in private homes or to pay to stay in houses or apartments belonging to other people, tallied about 400 reservations, total, in 2008. By 2018, it was racking up some “400 bookings every two minutes.” The company believes that five factors account for its success:

1. “Belonging” – Airbnb wants people to feel as if they fit in wherever they are.

Creating a sense of belonging means fashioning situations in which people can experience feeling at home anywhere. From the inception of Airbnb, its founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharcyzk and Brian Chesky sought inspiration for how their organization should function. They looked for insight from leaders in different fields to help broaden their perspective beyond technology or customer recruitment.

Existentialist philosopher Paul Tillich (1886–1965) said that listening is the first imperative of love. For Airbnb, listening means seeking opinions...

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