Airbnb Touts 500K Homes And 350K Hosts Around The World, Launches Groups To Share Best Practices

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Airbnb continued its pitch to regulators and hosts about the benefits of the new sharing economy, touting some new stats about the number of hosts and lodgings available on the company’s platform. Five years after launch, the company now has more than 500,000 homes and 350,000 hosts in 34,000 cities around the world.

“This is an economy where people have the power,” co-founder Brian Chesky at an event in Airbnb’s new San Francisco office space. “There are laws for people, and there are laws for businesses. But you are a new category — people as businesses.”

Chesky said that the company is having conversations with local governments. And at the event, he introduced the company’s new head of hospitality, Chip Conley, who talked about Airbnb’s Hospitality Innovation Lab in Dublin, in which the company determines best practices that its hosts have developed for the check-in of guests.

Conley said that if the hosts get nine “moments of truth” right, they’ll secure trust of their guests. That’s important, as there are 1,000 new hosts joining every day. And so, the company is suggesting new hospitality standards: welcome, support, reviews, accuracy, communication, availability, commitment, cleanliness, and amenities.

Hosts who answer a request within 12 hours, for instance, are more likely to get a guest to stay with them. The company is also hoping to provide more help from the community with the launch of its Superhost Program in 2014.

But that’s not all: Airbnb also announced new tools for hosts to share stories with one another, and to help each other share best practices. The launch of Airbnb Groups, announced today, is designed to help hosts communicate with each other and by strengthening the community’s standards and way they interact with guests.

“We are a community-driven hospitality company,” Chesky said. That will be improved by the company’s adoption of mobile tools, thanks to the launch of new mobile apps for hosts and guests to communicate with each other.

Airbnb has seen fantastic growth in the five or six years since launch. Airbnb CTO Nathan Blecharczyk said at Y Combinator Startup School a few weeks ago that the company had served 9 million guests since being founded, which was up from 4 million at the end of last year.

[Photo: Flickr/Phillip Capper]