Airbnb head Brian Chesky is planning to travel across the country over the next few months, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking a break from running the short-term rental platform.
The CEO believes travel among remote workers will be bigger than ever as the pandemic pushes employers to offer more flexible working conditions. To prove it’s possible to work from just about anywhere, Chesky plans to live and work from Airbnbs across the U.S. over the next several months, returning to his home in San Francisco between each one-to-two-week trip.
“All you need is a laptop and someone’s internet in their home and you can do your job. In fact, you can even run a nearly $100 billion company,” he told USA TODAY.
Airbnb updates coming soon
Chesky’s first stop on his remote working tour was in Atlanta, where he stayed in a home owned by a host who lives next door with her two young children. San Francisco street posters that the host’s father and uncle collected in the 1970s were propped up behind Brian during a video interview, one of the “personal touches” that drew the CEO to the listing while he was browsing for places to stay.
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“I generally like homes that feel like they’re part of a community,” he said. “Some Airbnbs feel a little bit more lived-in than others.”
Chesky suggests remote workers who want to travel through Airbnb look for listings with good Wi-Fi and take a close look at reviews. The longer, the better, he said.
“The more passionate somebody is a better review, the longer they’re going to leave reviews,” Chesky said. “So if you see a bunch of reviews and they’re like one or two sentences on Airbnb, even they’re positive, clearly that property didn’t leave the same impression.”
The CEO plans to use his time working remotely to find ways to improve the platform. Airbnb has announced major upgrades in recent months, and Chesky said “some pretty big updates” related to remote work will drop before the summer travel season arrives.
‘A revolution in travel’
Before the pandemic, customers primarily viewed Airbnb as a way to find an apartment in a city to stay at for a few days, according to Chesky. That’s changed over the past two years.
About 20% of nights booked between July and September were 28 days or longer. Half of the nights booked in that same time period were at least seven days long – up from 44% in 2019.
“We’re on the verge of a revolution in travel,” Chesky said. “The world is getting digitized. The world is getting smaller. It’s getting more global. And I think this has probably been the biggest change in daily living.”
While the pandemic won’t last forever, Chesky believes the remote working trend is here to stay with the “vast majority” of workers not returning to the office five days a week. He expects this will be especially big for workers without kids who are tethered to a school system, but added that remote work could open doors for families who want to travel for extended periods over the summer.
The shift is a boon for employees who want to fit in more travel, but Chesky said it makes sense from a business perspective as well: Why would a company limit their labor pool to only people who live near their office?
“I think ultimately, people are going to want to compete for the very best talent,” he said.
‘I feel like I can be anywhere’
Chesky’s next stop is still undecided. Cities with friends he’d like to visit are high on the list, but he’s not discounting small towns and rural communities as options.
“I’m still kind of still figuring out where my next adventure is,” he said. “I think I’m going to go to Nashville and then I think I’m gonna go to L.A. I’m not sure where next – maybe Miami.”
Chesky is considering posting a poll on social media to ask advice on where to go next.
“It’s a really fun adventure,” he said. “I always had this dream of being able to live anywhere. … (Now,) as long as I’m in a reasonable time zone, I feel like I can be anywhere and I can be just as effective here as at my house. So my office is everywhere.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.