Airbnb’s next Move to Stay Ahead of the Competition Involves Urban Planning

Now this is a surprising move by Airbnb. Meet “Samara”, an innovation lab and design studio aimed at creating hardware and software that supports “exploring new attitudes towards sharing and trust”. One of their first projects delves into the realm of urban planning by constructing a communal space in a small town in Japan. It’s a unique opportunity to expand their business, staying true to their core business that has helped to connect 60,000,000+ travellers in over 191-plus countries with unique accommodations and experiences. 

For what it’s worth, branching into what us urban planners like to call creating a “sense of place”, isn’t a bad pivot. My only critique of Samara would be that I’d have wanted it to be done more from the grassroots level so there’s a lot of ownership from communities.

Airbnb’s design for a community centre to be placed in rural Japan | Source: Fast Company

That aside, I think it could work as a platform to boost alternative tourism and overall economic creation in smaller districts/villages/towns, particularly because their area of focus is on communities that have suffered economically from young people moving away to bigger cities and leaving the elderly behind . I’ll be curious to see how this initiative by Airbnb plays out.

The community centre features a 16 ft long table for shared meals and meetings | Source: The Verge

You can read the story in detail and get an exclusive look here from Fast Company. Read More –>

Also, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Joe Gebbia introduces Samara here. Read More –>

Let me know your thoughts on Airbnb’s latest move by leaving a comment below.

3 Replies to “Airbnb’s next Move to Stay Ahead of the Competition Involves Urban Planning”

  1. Hi Willem,

    First off, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m in agreement with most of what you said particularly around Airbnb being about community and the sharing economy.

    At the same time though, as a global company/platform, in order to expand your business, keep your competitive edge, differentiate yourself from and stay ahead of the competition (like HomeAway, VRBO, Tripping, FlipKey, and others). In looking to the future, I think it’s a smart pivot that still allows them to stay in their lane and focus on what has made them the leaders in this space.

    Building a communal space will still promote community development, be a space for Airbnb meetups, and maybe even be a catalyst for the sharing economy. But that’s just how I see it. Only time will tell.

  2. Hi,

    I find this very interesting although it seems to trigger something. Isn’t Airbnb all about the community along with the sharing economy? Isn’t the whole point of Airbnb this peer-to-peer sharing basis and reminding ourselves of our humane connections? Just speaking my mind here but I think this defeats the point of Airbnb and the sharing economy even though I see that it can create trust between customers and Airbnb.


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