What would you do if you could pick the brain of one of the people responsible for Airbnb’s success? Well, you just might have that chance!
New York Times best-selling author Chip Conley is the boutique hotel entrepreneur who is largely responsible for Airbnb becoming the global hospitality brand that it is today while serving as their Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, and today he acts as the Strategic Advisor for Hospitality and Leadership. He’s also the founder of the Modern Elder Academy, where a new roadmap for midlife is offered to all.
We dig into what made him so successful in the hotel industry, what he brought to the table at Airbnb, and how to be a lifelong learner.
“Great entrepreneurs and great hosts meet unrecognized needs.”
In his book, “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow,” Chip applied Maslow’s iconic hierarchy of needs to organizations and the customer experience. The base of the pyramid is meeting the customer’s expectations, the middle is meeting their desires, and the top is having their unrecognized needs met.
An unrecognized need is something that a customer wants, but they don’t even know they want it and they don’t know that it’s available to them. When it comes to short-term rentals, there are several creative ways to reach the peak of the pyramid.
Creating a comprehensive neighborhood guide probably fits into a customer’s desires, and they will be pleased with that. But meeting an unrecognized need is when the host is so savvy about who the customer is and what they like that they can offer — without the guest asking — the kinds of things and experiences they know that they would want. Send a questionnaire, get to know your guests a bit, and make them feel special before they even arrive.
Chip has created 52 boutique hotels, each with its own name, personality, and niche. His process for defining them was to create a list of five adjectives that describe it. Chip likes to imagine a magazine that encapsulates the personality of the hotel, and that the person who loves that hotel is going to also love that magazine. Between visualizing that magazine and those five adjectives, you can hone in and make sure your decisions are all cohesive and intentional.
You can also look at how to stimulate all five senses in line with those five adjectives, from aromatherapy to the foods you serve to the textures of materials. We’re all used to focusing on the look of things, but if you can tap into all five senses and make a guest feel like a space was made for them, you will create evangelical fans.
Wherever you are advertising, be brutally candid about the three things that are spectacular about your listing, and the two things that some people don’t like.