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As Listing Growth Slows, Airbnb Faces New Test

At a gathering of Airbnb hosts two weeks ago, CEO Brian Chesky fielded a question he gets frequently: Why is the company allowing professional real estate investors and commercial property managers to list on the site? In response, he said the company needed to be “more inclusive of who belongs on Airbnb,” but emphasized the company wasn’t “leaving our roots.”

That will continue to be a fine line for Mr. Chesky to try to walk, even as Airbnb has grown into a travel-industry heavyweight and prepares for an IPO, likely in 2019. Growth of listings is slowing in some of Airbnb’s biggest cities, pushing the company to look for revenue from traditional hospitality ventures. It’s an effort that sometimes collides with the company’s upstart image.

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“It’s nice that he mentioned us in his speech. But...there are ways to make their service better and help make us money,” he said. “They are maturing as a company and coming to realize that it turns out traditional hospitality providers do things well and shunning them completely wasn’t a good idea.”

Hunter Walk commented on this article.
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“It’s a really interesting question for Airbnb, and one they’re continuing to struggle with: How do you solve the supply problem without diluting the core brand?”