#Heroesofchange: Airbnb

Airbnb have revolutionised the way that we navigate our economy. They’re an ideology turned into a global movement. Rather than every man for himself, Airbnb espouses a rhetoric of sharing, opening up and building networks across divides. They have created a movement that has spearheaded the sharing economy. The movement stretches globally, beyond the company of Airbnb and into the hearts and minds of people.

Meet Lush

Lush is a beauty company that prides itself on the use of natural, vegetarian products with zero animal testing. They have taken the same approach to their products as they have to social activism – ethical, environmental and organic. From sending sums of money to campaign and protest groups to encouraging their customers to vote, to creating their own social activism cash prizes. Lush’s ethical business practice genuinely engages social activism.

Meet the Airbnb’ers

Airbnb’s ideology is simple: open up your home to others, and people will open up their homes to you too. Airbnb have make it acceptable to open up your personal space to strangers by creating an online marketplace of short-term rentals.

What’s the role of Airbnb HQ?

By rooting their company in an ideology that millions can share in, Airbnb have created a movement that is self sustaining. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky describes the ideology as:

‘We believe in the simple idea that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong. We know this is an idealistic notion that faces huge obstacles because of something that also seems simple, but isn’t – that not everyone is accepted.’

This has led to a global movement, where people across the world can enact the ideology of acceptance through Airbnb – a clever branding message on Airbnb’s part.

Yet Airbnb’s message delves deeper than branding. They have taken political stances on things like Trump’s travel ban, such as providing free housing to refugees and those recently barred from entering the US, and they have pledged to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need, starting with refugees, disaster survivors, and relief workers. Airbnb’s movement rests on values much more than it does on economy. They encourage movement members to not only believe in but also to act in acceptance. Airbnb is continually acting and thus encouraging its movement members to enact their founding principles of networks and community across divides.

What next?

AirBnB have created a huge movement of those who believe in the power of the shared economy, but the question arises, how are they going to defend their status as champions of shared housing and networks across divides as they becomes increasingly commercialised and increasingly regulated? AirBnB have already began to mobilise their movement members, providing them with the tools to lobby governments on their behalf. They have built a grassroots movement to campaign on their behalf, but questions on governance, sustainability, status and sticking true to their values remains at the heart of questions for the future of AirBnB.

Explore movements further with our free Movement Building Canvas

Free resources

Movement Building Canvas

The Movement Building Canvas is a practical framework and printable worksheet to help you or your organisation design and build a social movement.

Network Building Canvas

Discover how to create and manage successful peer networks and Communities of Practice using our handy canvas, perfect for both individuals and groups.

See more resources