Wisdom at Work: An interview with Chip Conley


Interview with Chip Conley.jpg


We’re thrilled to welcome Chip Conley to the Community Center to share his reflections on the relationship between wisdom and work and how the Airbnb host community has helped shape his career. A longtime hospitality entrepreneur, Airbnb strategic advisor, author, and host champion, Chip’s investment in this host community has deep roots and a lasting legacy. His new book, Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, promises to reframe the idea of growing older as an opportunity to share knowledge and become a student again, as well. His book will be available in English September 18th with additional languages to come in the following months.


Q: You’ve been invested in hospitality and in the Airbnb host community for many years. How did that work inspire the wisdom you share in your new book?

A: First of all, I miss our host community. During my four years in a leadership role in the company, I loved traveling around the world while learning from our hosts. There’s an old saying, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens,” and I found our host community to be skillful listeners, but also remarkable contributors to the community as a whole. The “wisdom of the crowd” (our global host community) educated me quite a bit and I hope they’ll see some of their point of view represented in my new book which chronicles why the world needs to value wisdom in a world that is increasingly dominated by technology.


Q: What can hosts learn from your approach to wisdom in their own hosting journeys?

A: It’s been fascinating to be twice the age of the average employee at Airbnb during my five and a half years in the company (the last year and a half as a consultant). I’ve done my best to be a champion for our host community and, especially, those who are a little older. Brian and his co-founders really appreciate that hosts 50 and older receive the highest Airbnb guest satisfaction scores of any demographic. There may be a few reasons for this: more time to focus on their hosting skills, growing emotional intelligence (a key feature of great hosts) as we age, and maybe a longer-term commitment to hosting as a means of creating retirement income. I don’t think any age group holds a monopoly on wisdom, but it is a quality that one can cultivate and harvest over time.


Q: How has the concept of hospitality changed, or not, for you from your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond?

A: When I started Joie de Vivre Hospitality in my mid-20s (1987), the company was one of the first boutique hotel companies in the U.S. We were proving that a growing number of travelers were looking for more of a personalized, localized hotel experience. Interestingly, we changed the title for our front desk agents from “clerks” to “hosts,” so the idea of hosting has been in my blood for 32 years. Over the 24 years I was CEO of that company, we created 52 boutique hotels, and it become clear that the big global chains wanted to start looking more like boutique hotels (more attention to design, better restaurants and bars, more focus on local experiences). When I joined Airbnb as the Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, I saw this new home-sharing wave as being the boutique hotel innovation writ large as technology allowed Airbnb to take this localized hospitality focus and make it global. When Brian Chesky approached me to join the company five and a half years ago, he asked, “How would you like to democratize hospitality?” And, I think that’s what Airbnb and our amazing host community have done.


Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give a new host as they start out?

A: The common quality of our best hosts around the world is a combination of being very organized and very welcoming and empathetic. Those are different qualities, and some hosts may be better at one than the other, but those who can master both (sometimes it’s a couple who combine those qualities) will be very successful.


Q: What’s next for you, Chip? What do you want this next season to hold for you?

A: I continue to be a Strategic Advisor to Brian and his senior team. My process of writing Wisdom@Work helped me to see how many people in middle age and beyond desire to rethink their life and career but how few resources we have to support people in midlife awakenings. Thus, I’ve created the world’s first midlife wisdom school, the Modern Elder Academy, dedicated to providing the place and the tools to start reframing a student’s lifetime of experience. It’s a beachfront campus one-hour north of Cabo San Lucas in southern Baja, Mexico, so I’m back in the hospitality business again. We have people coming to join us from all over the world.


To read more about Chip’s book and the Modern Elder Academy, visit his website.

Labels (2)
40 Replies
Cathie in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

Wisdom at work @Airbnb ..... but life skills at play! 


Cathie0E237372-C1FE-4AF0-AE23-47963B72D167.jpegWhat would I want as a guest when arriving through the night?

Ranjana in
Mumbai, India
Level 2

It is a great interview and I am very excited about this opportunity I enjoy as a host.

Thank you. 

Warm regards 

Ranjana Patil  :) 

Boutique Bombay Homestay 

Dahisar west. 


Anmol & Migmar in
New Delhi, India
Level 1

great interview

Stewart in
Falkland, United Kingdom
Level 3

I'm a host (www.courtsidefalkland.co.uk) and ABnB provide about 15% of my business for my stand alone cottage- thanks. But where is the value in this piece of ABnB sales puff? However a fantastic opportunity for self promotion and well taken and executed by Brian. Apart from the "blooming obvious" where are the golden nuggets of insight?


ABnB fill the gaps I have left from my own promotion and website channel. It works, its business and we both benefit. No more and no less.


ABnB haven't yet clocked that "roomy renters" and holiday property letters are two distinct types of supplier and as such need to refine their offering of our respective products. 


Is to late to be an ABnB host ambassador for whole property lets??

Pritesh in
Goa, India
Level 2

Great Insights! 



Founder Optmize Holidays PLC


Jeanette in
Granada, Spain
Level 1

Hi.  Im  now 69 and have been travelling for work and holidays abroad for about 45 years continuely, so I would say I have quite a lot of experience in this area from a customer point of view.


Airbnb is a great way of finding accomdation.  Now I am renting out an apartment through their website I feel I have the expertise to get it right.

Now in my 3rd year of a very successful business and  I have been a super host right through. So for me thanks airbnb


Winnie in
Kigali, Rwanda
Level 2

Thanks for the welcome

Winnie in
Kigali, Rwanda
Level 2


Mika in
Izola, Slovenia
Level 1

Great job

Janet in
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level 4

I sucessfully rent out a room in my flat for solo travellers via airbnb.

I agree with Stwart - room renter hosts are quite different from those who let out full properties on short lets. Airbnb should try to distinguish their different needs and also local impacts.


Ann in
Kenmare, Ireland
Level 2

Since joining the Airbnb I am so impressed by the clientele it appeals to. I have had such lovely guests and feel Brian’s words are so true. It’s wanting the guests to enjoy their holiday  and it is easy to help them do so. 

Robin in
Chattanooga, TN
Level 2

I agree with the point about aging. I belive everyone just wants to be treated well with empathy and respect. Who wants a host who does not offer respect? Who wants a guest? neither.

Kenneth in
Paris, ME
Level 1

Nice worth while linterview. I might enhance what has been said about wisdom. 

It was Confucius I believe that in circa 600Bc said, “Show me wisdom greater than Kindness!”


soft landings 


40 Long View Acres 

South Paris, Maine USA

Level 2

I have recently joined Airbnb and I to agree with Brian. I to am 68 years old and doing Airbnb keeps me busy and fun meeting all my new friends. Thank you for everything . Linda in Kitchener Ontario Canada.

Chanden in
Toronto, Canada
Level 2

I have recently joined the ABNB community and love it. Been busy during the summer months. I agree with the article that seniors do have more time to welcome the guest and attention to details is also very important. I have had wonderful reviews from all my guests and my experience has been very positive. 

Relax by the pool, Brampton,ON Canada

Janice in
Berwick, Canada
Level 2

Some wise words! “Organized, welcoming and empathetic...” I totally agree! 

Lisa in
Springville, PA
Level 2

Death brought me here as a Widow ...

Chip? He thrills Airbnb executives ...$$$


Lisa in
Springville, PA
Level 2

I find as a host, I can't afford to book an Airbnb rental myself .. even with my 100 dollar certificate over the past 4 years ..

Let's hope ABnb will be affordable to the average or less than average person(s) in the future . I must be an anomaly on this site

Naomi in
Aberdeen, SD
Level 2

In people’s replies, there is a level given under their names. What is this?

Nina in
Newport Beach, CA
Level 2

 I joined Airbnb few years ago but now I host my spare room and my first experience I had  was great !  I believe to be a good host number one is  having your place clean  fresh and exactly how you  described it  ,I think your guest will appreciate that a lot , then if course welcoming , Also being helpful specially  if someone is new to the area  i’m sure they will appreciate it if you tell them about places to visit and to go eat and tour  overall try to make the experience worth it for them  and not stressful that way you will have good reviews and you  Will make new friends  and have more guests at your place,    And this  is not just about meeting people its about also making a living , good luck to you all !  I love Hosting ❤️!

Anna in
Tbilisi, Georgia
Level 2

 I am very satisfied with the service of the site and carefully. From me a very positive attitude towards the Airbnb. I am grateful for this site.

Zoleka in
Durban, South Africa
Level 2

Iam host for FJs Place B&B in Durban, South Africa. Thank you so much for the interview it was very informative, I love hospitality therefore I all give my best to my guests.




Maria in
Hudson, NY
Level 2

I love this interview and it validates my feelings about being an air b n b host. I just turned 70 and in my past career I was a Director of Admissions at a local community college.  Being organized, having empathy and welcoming is a valuable attribute in fields where you meet people to help better serve them. I truly enjoy the air b n b experience and having these skills has only proven that your guests will truly feel welcomed and satisfied. 

Dieneke in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

Hello Chip,


Great interview and some excellent advice again. Thanks for that.  I still remember the advice you gave at one of the Airbnb Opens about always telling potential hosts about 3 things that you can't offer. I still put it into practice.


Great job you are doing at the moment.




Anna in
Annapolis, MD
Level 2

this is a puff piece with no substance

Autumn in
San José del Cabo, Mexico
Level 2

Hi Chip,

I am a Airbnb host in San Jose del Cabo. I just watched the video on your website. I LOVE it...You have a beautiful place and have captured the true essence and vibe of the Baja. I have lived here for over 25 years and know many friends that would probably love to expirience your school.

Here is the link to my profile if you want to checkout our place, it is a perfect stopover between the airport and your place.. https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/5164967

Thank you for your awesome work, your students look so happy.

Fay in
Negril, Jamaica
Level 2

Thanks well appreciated i enjoy been a host on Airbnb and nice interview

Rachel in
Cottage Grove, OR
Level 2

Thanks for offering your perspective Chip!  I'm glad to hear I am part of that demographic (50+ years) that is very satisfied with the Airbnb experience.  My guests complete that partnership as they have been wonderful!  Please keep your sights on supporting hosts that are working on being "Green". 


Rachel Kyle

Mt. David Home & Guest 

Cottage Grove, OR

Margaret in
Albany, Australia
Level 2

From the vantage point of 50+ it is wonderful to be acknowledged for what we bring to business. Thanks Chip Conley & everyone at Airbnb. 

Online Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Online Community Manager

Lovely to see you here @Dieneke, I hope you are keeping well. 


It is wonderful to see you comment here, I am sure Chip will be chuffed to hear from you. :)

Sarah in
Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom
Level 2

I have been an Airbnb host for a year and a half.

I let a room in my home, not a whole property.

I have met some lovely people, made some friends along the way and earned some extra income.

I fall into the older category  for an Airbnb host and agree, that being organised, welcoming and empathetic are very important qualities.

The interview  was very interesting and raised some useful points, thank you.


R Jane in
Dallas, TX
Level 2

Inspiring interview--thanks! I am a 66 year old SuperHost, but only have one studio available to rent through Airbnb. There is still so much more I want to create and experience in what life I have left, and am hoping Chip's book will stimulate some inner guidance.

Dick in
Burbank, CA
Level 3

Nice self-promotion.

Joan in
Todos Santos, Mexico
Level 2

Thank you Chip,Great information,

Level 2

Great Insights! 

Keila in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Level 10

I love Chip Conley's work and also his energy.

I was able to see a bit of it, in person, a few years ago at the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles. I think this man has an admirable life story and I'm excited about his new book.


I feel myself with a mission of helping the world to embrace more humanity the midst of so all this technology.


Thanks for this gift, @Airbnb!

Murdoch in
England, United Kingdom
Level 2

Exactly! And well said, Stewart in Falkland. AirBnB, as its name indeed implies, began by focusing on BnB and on rooms casually let for a night or two and this continues in its approach. The needs of those letting typically entire flats or houses for holidaying guests are significantly different in many ways and seem not to be adequately recognised.


In my own case as with many others standard practice is letting Saturday to Saturday. I can set Saturday as a mandatory check-in day (during the high season) if I chose and I can equally set a minimum stay of seven days but I can't stop someone from booking a nine day period Saturday to Monday. Indeed, despite my stipulations AirBnB recently sent me a confirmed booking Friday to Monday week, ten days in all and although welcome enough in one sense with the effect of screwing up the part weeks on either side of the central one.


And neither I nor any of our guests care about a nightly rate, a holiday weekly rate being the relevant criterion.


AirBnB, undoubtedly helpful and beneficial though it is, is too prescriptive and insufficiently aware of the differences distinguishing BnB-type listings from self-catering holiday let listings but also between in the latter category newly built or tarted up holiday units in contrast to older traditional houses with "faults" that freak out the neurotic but are welcomed and accepted by those for whom finding a comfortable and welcoming house without ideas above its station is the main criterion.

Mya in
Chico, CA
Level 2

I’ve met many wonderful guests during my years a a host, only 2 have for one reason or another, have I’ve said no when the option was given. Totally enjoy being a host!

Level 2

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Līga in
Riga, Latvia
Level 2

Hello from Riga!

Thank you for your attention and have a good day ;) 

You can check my profile on social media and, of course, book from me properties here if you plan to come to Latvia! C ya!


This is Līge Eglīte

from Latvia

EGLITE real.

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