AiRbnb and Belonging

Airbnb, an app which is now 8 years old and worth 10 billion dollars, I’m sure you have all used or know about it, but if you haven’t, it allows you to “home-share” or rent space from another person. It competes directly with hotels, motels, so on.

Airbnb has been so successful, it is now the third most valuable social application company, worth more than many hotel chains, including Hyatt, and has 1,500,000 listings in almost every single country in the world. You can literally rent a home anywhere you want.

It’s success has generated an entire ecosystem of applications around it.

Millennials want to travel, to see the world, and to share our memories digitally, to show off our digital feed, where we’ve gone, what we’ve done. We will be measured by our exploits, our travels. For airbnb, we belong everywhere, which is convenient as a generation becomes less interested in property ownership, and more interest in accumulating digital memories. However, this is at odds with a desire to experience authenticity and uniqueness in the ever increasing environment of the contemporary generic. Airbnb, is very much tapped into this, So that as much as you are renting a house or a room inside it, you are also renting an image of the host and their persona, their tastes, their biography. Their new logo, the Bélo, is designed to be personalizable, something we can fight for and own. Everyone can airbnb, and airbnb is for all of us, but we can still have different experiences, or something.

To quote, Ayr in their rhizome article,

When Airbnb tells you "Belong everywhere," what it really reveals is that in our rarefied dwelling patterns, the contemporary urban dweller has long belonged Nowhere. If on the one hand this may be praised on the form of emancipation, on the other, mechanisms of expropriation - the primordial act at the origin of capitalism - have left us all in a state of permanent uprootedness, even when we are in our homes. It is as if we had finally inherited the properties of the commodities he's cherished: forever in flux and always present where they can be sold. To be able to feel home in any one's home, to be pleased when pseudo-appropriating the life of a stranger anywhere in the world shows what the home ever was: a myth, a dream. 

This is only one aspect of airbnb, the way that it affects and appeals to the millennial identity, and mythos, but it’s effects on the city are as consequential.

This website is insideairbnb. It shows gleaned information about a city's Airbnb's listings, and illustrates how airbnb changes, and competes with the existing urban fabric, and the residential housing market. What it reveals are cities in transition, where thousands or tens of thousands of units are being taken offline, and being used as full-time airbnbs. These houses are coming offline reducing the amount of housing stock available for purchase, or more important rent. Affordability comes into crisis, as the tourist becomes one of the primary users of available residential units. There are reports of neighbourhoods, re-orienting themselves around the changing demographics of their communities, more bars, restaurants, shops which cater to tourists are opening up in brooklyn’s previously quiet residential neighbourhoods.

Airbnb is spreading. It’s changing how we use cities, and how cities welcome us as tourists, everything is changing.