Airbnb’s Stephenson on expansion beyond the core and AI

After five years as Airbnb’s chief financial officer as well as a lengthy career at Amazon, Dave Stephenson recently took over as the accommodation platform’s first chief business officer (CBO). 

Just days into the role, Stephenson joined the ITB convention in Berlin last week to talk about why Airbnb needs a CBO and growth opportunities at the company.

He discussed how the platform had gone back to basics during COVID but is now ready to expand, echoing recent comments CEO Brian Chesky made to analysts during Airbnb’s fourth quarter and full-year results.

“As we’re ready to expand beyond the core we needed this role,” Stephenson said. “As we move into services, experiences and beyond, we needed to create a role that supports that level of growth.”

He added there would be more specifics to share later in the year.

“Now we’re going to be expanding into things like services and experiences that are all surrounded by and in support of stays,” he said.

“It will help the overall community of guests and hosts and the things they need. What are the things going to keep them [the hosts] on Airbnb? And what are the things that help other hosts come on board? Is it easier maintenance, cleaning, maybe they need a cohost. Those could be the types of things. And on the guest side, what are the things they’re caring about? Fridge stocking, transportation from the airport, maybe a late checkout and a place to store their bag. They seem like simple things, things that are already occurring today, and that other people are either providing or not providing in as good of a way that we could if we integrate them into our service.”

He also hinted at further investment in tours and activities. The company said a year ago that it was pausing adding new experiences, although Chesky has repeatedly stressed the massive opportunity that lies in experiences. 

Stephenson went on to discuss how Airbnb applies its expansion playbook to different geographies while trying to take local nuances into account.

He also talked about the latest updates to the platform, including the removal of thousands of listings and the verification process it is rolling out, the increasing role of artificial intelligence and the drivers of growth for the wider alternative accommodation market.

Watch the full interview below with PhocusWire’s senior reporter Linda Fox.

How Airbnb is unlocking new opportunities for growth

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