It is always fantastic to see how much you enjoy hearing about other members of our Community. As you know, I have been spending a lot of time with Laura (particularly in some of the more exotic locations like airport lounges), so I thought it would be great for you to get to know her a little more.
Spotlighting… @Laura Chambers:
Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Hello, I’m Laura and I look after our Homes hosts at Airbnb. I help to make sure our hosts have great tools (and information) to be successful, so that they can grow their businesses. I work on ensuring that the Airbnb marketplace is a fair, safe and trusted place for them. And I help hosts get connected to each other (and to us here at Airbnb!). I have an amazing team (there will be around 100 of us by the end of the year) who wake up every day working for you!
Why did you join Airbnb and why did this role attract you?
I took a break from work after having my third child and I realised I was ready for a new opportunity. I had several companies reach out to me, but I was struggling to talk myself into getting excited about them. So I changed direction, and stepped back to really think about where I would like to work. It came down to three big things; I wanted to work for a company with an important mission and a big heart; for a company with a marketplace (I love marketplaces … they are interesting, complicated, and they bring people together); and with three children I wanted a place that would support me in the never-ending work to balance my passions for working and for being a mum. The only company that met those criteria for me was Airbnb! So I reached out and asked for a job. Happily, at the time, Brian (our CEO & co-founder), was thinking about creating a new role to really focus on supporting our homes hosts and helping them to grow, so they created a new role for me, and here I am! I feel incredibly lucky to have found this place and this role.
You are currently on a Host Community listening tour, what’s the aim and why are you doing it?
For me our hosts really are our customers, so it is incredibly important that I know what their priorities are, what they want us to work on and what their biggest concerns are – so that I can ensure my team and the rest of Airbnb are working on the most important topics. On this trip I’m visiting 5 different cities; Tokyo, Sydney, Rome, London and Toronto, in just 12 days! (I didn’t want to be away from my little ones too long so I’m cramming it in). In each place I’m spending lots of quality time with our hosts. I’m staying with hosts in each location (of course!) and have so enjoyed getting to know them and their stories. We are also having Q&A sessions, where I share more about what Airbnb is working on and gathering community advice, plus the hosts have the opportunity to ask questions and let me know what their top priorities are!
It’s not just you on the tour, who has joined you?
Well…Lizzie is my one trusted (entertaining, funny and occasionally loopy!) companion for the whole trip, along with the wonderfully talented Erin and Tim, who are taking some photos and videos. Then in each of the locations we are meeting with the local teams and Country Managers. I also have had several folks from my team in San Francisco join for different sections; our Head of Marketing (Nat), our head of Host Research (Louise), our Community Education Leader (Joh), Host Community Leaders (Anna and Nora), our head of regional connections (and policy expert!) Jen … basically a great bunch of people who spend every day thinking about and working with (and for!) hosts. They’ve all loved the opportunity to come out and really hear the voice of our hosts (and they all wish they could have been on the entire trip!). I also met up with Srin and Brittany in Tokyo – they were just finishing a trip around APAC to help hosts learn more about accessibility. I can’t encourage you all enough to learn more about accessibility … you can read more about their work here. I am such a fan of the work that they’re doing. It helps guests with accessibility needs around the world easily find a place to belong (and one of my children is in a wheelchair, so as you can imagine I feel particularly passionate about this work!)
How impactful is this to hosts going forward?
When you break it down, my job is really to be the voice of hosts, to be their champion back at Airbnb. The more I can really tell the story of hosts and share what is on their minds and what their priorities are, then the better job I can do at taking that back and making sure my team are really focused on building the right things. Plus, I can influence other teams around Airbnb; whether that’s a team working on cancellation policies or pricing advice. There are a lot of teams who are doing a lot of work on behalf of hosts and it is really important that they have these insights as well.
This isn’t the only way you are listening to hosts?
There are lots of ways we speak to hosts. The Community Center is fantastic and we get great summaries and I'm here as often as I can be (Lizzie always highlights important conversations for me, and the team helps me translate and respond in 12 languages). We also do a tremendous amount of research (thanks to Louise and her team!) and regular Q&As; and so there are many different ways that we gain a connection with hosts, and we really try to synthesise the information shared and work out what the priorities are, to make sure we are working on these. I’m actually about to hire a head of Host Feedback, and I’m confident that they will do an outstanding job in helping us listen even better.
You have been staying in an array of different listings during the tour, can you tell us more?
In Tokyo I stayed in a private home with a wonderful host, Wakana. She was so delightful! She showed me around the local area and we saw the cherry blossoms, she took me to her local temple, and we had so much green tea and talked, plus we played with her cats / co-hosts. It was fantastic … I really got a glimpse of living in Tokyo!
In Rome, I stayed with a host called Antonella. She is just the most delightful person! Her listing is amazing (she’s an architect by training, and it’s only steps from the Pantheon), and Antonella makes gorgeous necklaces for her guests - it takes her over 2 hours for each one but that doesn’t feel like work for her - it’s a creative outlet. We had so much fun, I feel like I have a new best friend in Rome.
In Sydney I tried out something new and stayed at a Boutique Hotel. I haven’t done that before with Airbnb, but I figured given we just bought Hotel Tonight I should see what the experience was like!! The Hotel was so gorgeous - it felt really quaint, super local, and the hosts made me feel totally at home.
In London I stayed in another private room with the delightful Silvia. It was a quick trip but we went out for breakfast at a gorgeous cafe just across the street, and I was so happy to have some hot cross buns!
Then finally in Toronto I stayed with Dana. It was a flat under her home (she also has some private rooms in her home). And it was beyond delightful! We had coffee and a chat in her main home (being quiet to not wake up her other guests!) and she has a fabulous story - and amazing taste in interior design. I could have stayed and talked for hours on end.
Any key surprises?
One of the things I have heard pretty consistently, is the importance of community connection. It’s been really key in both Tokyo and Sydney. Hosts are doing lots of work and it can sometimes feel quite isolating, it’s not like you are in an office space and you are surrounded by colleagues. Think of how valuable your colleagues are to you, they are the people you share ideas, learn with, vent with, sometimes have a beer or a glass of wine with and celebrate those happy moments. Nearly every host I have spoken with has shared how important it is for them to be connected with each other, and also with Airbnb. I had suspected that was the case, but it became even more clear to me on this trip so I need to go back and look at extra ways that we can support unity. It was also great to get super detailed and clear feedback on our policies and products - we have lots of work to do there too!
It wouldn’t be a Community Spotlight without a fun fact. So, what’s yours?
My parents were one of the first people in Australia to become Airbnb hosts. They listed their lovely little home (a former dairy shed in Daylesford, Australia) and it helped to fund their amazing retirement (they sailed around the world for 13 years!) . My uncle is also a host (and a very proud Superhost!) in Phillip Island, Australia. Hosting is very much part of my family - it’s in my blood!
Anything to add?
Wow - just a huge thank you to everyone that has met with us and of course the Airbnb teams who have been such wonderful hosts in their countries. I feel so incredibly energised and inspired to go back and do some great work on your behalf.
Thank you so much Laura for sharing more about yourself and your listening tour.
As always, please do share your comments and thoughts here, I’m sure Laura would love to hear from you.
Unfortunately, I just experienced a guest that left me a 1 star review in all areas, for an apartment that ultimately she did not stay (that has received 5 stars in all areas from 100% of all the guests). I thought that @Laura announced that unfair and false reviews, or vindictive reviews, would be removed, but I guess it is not the case and was just an announcement. Her review is even in direct violation of airbnb content policy in the fact that her "Review do not represent her personal experience or that of their travel companions" (she never saw the apt, so cannot represent something as an experience she did not experience).
Sent a request to remove the review to customer service with an extensive explication, and providing proof that she did not stay in the apt (the other guest with whom she switched even confirmed via airbnb thread). But I was treated as I was the wrong one.
I have 6 listings on airbnb, and host since 2010, more than 2000 guests hosted, I help the local community in rio a lot, together with the airbnb sao paolo team, I have an average of 96% 5 stars each year (about 280 stays per year).
That specific apartment she did not stay, has 100% 5 stars, and 1 guest who lie, and write an unfair review over a listing she did not stay, can lower my average of that apt from 5.0 to 4.9???? I mean I got 50 review 5 stars working very hard, and one guest lying who did not even stay in the apartment
I am really disappointed that the announcement of @Laura that unfair reviews will be analysed and removed, it was not a true fact but a publicity announcement.
I have worked very hard for my 100% 5 stars review and one guest, for vingançe, can totally broke 2 years of work in that apartment.
I could really use some help.
Customer service is horrible. They do not return phone calls. I am hoping to avoid arbitration. But arbitration seems inevitable because a small percentage of guests lie.
Why is it impossible to find a phone number for host support when customer service fails, someone on our side? Why does it seem like my superhost status means nothing to customer service? Why does my 4.9 review average mean nothing to customer service?
Hi Laura! I sent you a notification on LinkedIn, apologies for the intrusion onto your listing but this is an emergency. I received your information from a fellow host here in Washington DC. Unfortunately, I was kicked out of my account today and all of my reservations were cancelled (both current and upcoming), I have no idea as to why this is happening to me. I've been a stellar host for the last 6 years and have a track record of receiving 5-star ratings from guests. I'm super frustrated, sat on the phone with an Airbnb rep for over an hour today and no one can seem to tell me why my profile has been totally blacklisted. I'm frustrated, my guests are frustrated. They cancelled over a dozen reservations today costing me tens of thousands of dollars. Apologies for the desperate attempt to contact, but i'm just out of options and this is my livelihood...