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Airbnb upbeat about future growth

Airbnb believes it can only keep growing.

Why? It plans to provide more trip-planning services. There’s this ranking system that puts guests and homeowners on their best behavior. Also, there’s a high adoption rate among seniors.

That’s the big takeaway from one of the earliest panels at CES 2017, titled “The Sharing Economy’s Disruptive Role” and featuring speakers from car-sharing service Uber, home-sharing service Airbnb and dog sitter finder DogVacay.

Airbnb, which lets smartphone owners use an app to rent a room or an entire home owned by an everyday person, has been a worry for companies in the short-term stay market and has irked regulators for allowing homeowners to ignore licensing.

As for any hotel owners concerned about losing guests to a stay in a stranger’s house, a ranking tool for how respectful guests are and providing control to individual homeowners have helped separate Airbnb from traditional competition, Airbnb head economist Peter Coles told an audience Thursday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“I’d love to see the data on whose rooms are more often trashed,” Coles said.

Coles drew some distinction between the app maker he works for compared to fellow panelists from DogVacay and Uber.

One of DogVacay’s biggest challenges is keeping people on its app once they’ve found a good dog sitter that they’ll use again and again, founder and CEO Aaron Hirschhorn said. The company has invested in rewards programs for repeat users to solve the problem.


Uber is investing in more automation in the form of driverless cars to give an option to passengers concerned for human error of the drivers who use the company’s app to pick up paying passengers, growth optimization head Kane Sweeney said.

The promise of a stay in a clean home with a local who can provide recommendations for where to go locally and the need to use the app when in an unfamiliar place separate Airbnb, Coles said.

“Establishing trust early on is important,” he said.

With that ideal homeowner in mind, Coles said in an interview after the event that seniors have proven a large and efficient demographic among Airbnb users.

The Airbnb economist, who left a job as an assistant professor at Harvard Business School to move to Silicon Valley in 2013, said we are now in a time when the stereotype of seniors as late adopters can be untrue.

Seniors who rent out space in their house through Airbnb either discover the app themselves or are set up by their children. To generalize, they have used the internet long enough to feel better about risks that come with unfamiliar technology, Coles said.

A November report from Airbnb said that using the service brought an average of $8,350 a year in supplemental income for hosts 65 and older. The fastest-growing host demographic for Airbnb is people 60 and older. Some 63 percent of Airbnb trips hosted by older women result in a five-star review.

“It’s unheard of that a senior would be a faster adopter compared to millennials,” he said.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @wademillward

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