Janell Kopesky and Lana Olson recently attended the Airbnb Festival in LA. Here’s a recap of their adventures:

Lana and Janell attending the Airbnb Festival

Lana and Janell attending the Airbnb Festival

Airbnb began in 2007 with a small website renting floor space in the co-founders’ San Francisco apartment and has since revolutionized the hospitality and vacation rental industry offering everything from rooms to mansions across the world. It appeals to travelers looking for a ‘live like a local’ experience and since we, at the Bali Hai Vacation Rental team, endeavor to provide our guests with the most comfortable and welcoming experience on Kauai, we have found it a natural fit for our marketing efforts.

For the last few years, Airbnb has organized a conference for its hosts, selecting a different city each year. The Airbnb Open Spotlight as it’s called, was held in Downtown LA, and to the delight of Janell and I, who were sent as representatives to bring back fresh insights, it was more of a festival than a conference. Airbnb didn’t just sit us in a conference room and show slides about being a good host, they took over the entire strip of historic downtown LA theaters and they showed us through the experience provided. There were 7,000 people in attendance from about 500 countries so they had to be creative about the process. Ahead of the ‘Festival’ they provided us with a customizable website where we could review the events, speakers, and schedule and plan our itinerary for the trip. Each day they also gave us a newspaper with brief and relevant articles as well as a recap of the daily schedule, a map of downtown LA, suggestions for great food in the area, and tips on getting the most out of the conference. We were able to maximize the networking opportunities with wristbands that could instantly exchange contact information and store it in our website profile.

One of the many Airbnb venues.

One of the many Airbnb venues.

We spent our days running up and down S. Broadway between The Palace, The Orpheum, The Theater at The Ace Hotel, The Downtown Los Angeles Theater and a few others. There was so much great content, we had to run to get a spot in line in order to get in. Among the keynote speakers were author Elizabeth Gilbert, producer Brian Grazer, architect Frank Gehry, actor/author Gwyneth Paltrow, and actor and Airbnb investor Ashton Kutcher. Some gave talks and others were part of panels or fireside chats, their words meant to inspire us to keep our

The entrance to the Airbnb Festival

The entrance to the Airbnb Festival

curiosity alive, help our guests belong anywhere, and treat each one like family. I couldn’t help but think Airbnb’s values aligned so well with the concepts of Aloha and Ohana that we live and promote each day with our colleagues and guests at Bali Hai. One of our favorite presenters was American hotelier and Airbnb’s own Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Chip Conley. He emphasized paying attention to the ‘personality’ of each of our listings and making sure that our marketing was consistent with the personality of each listing and that of our desired guest as well as reminding us to focus on the ‘moments of truth’ in a traveling experience. The process at check-in, for example, or the attitude of the host when something goes wrong. These are moments that can make or break an exceptional guest experience and experiences were the true stars of the show at this year’s Airbnb Open.

Janell and Lana with our Airbnb rep, Fariba Dorosti.

Janell and Lana with our Airbnb rep, Fariba Dorosti.

The new Airbnb platform will allow us to host trips or experiences, not just homes. For example, a guest may book a home and then also wish to go on a trek down the Na Pali coast, horseback riding, or a boat tour. We already offer these and much more with our concierge services and the new platform provides greater exposure and an easy and attractive way to market them with pictures, videos, and a familiar booking interface. It will also allow us to offer these services to other guests or even locals, since it is not a requirement that the experience be booked with a rental. Airbnb provided us with opportunities to enjoy samples of some of these newly hosted experiences at the Festival, with virtual reality walks in the woods, interactive art studio setup, participation in a patisserie operation and a photo studio session. I was constantly impressed by their ability not to just tell us but to show us what they were offering and literally walk us through it, every step. Upon our return, we decided to make sure our guests know that we are and have always been available to do the same for them for whatever they need, every step of their journey.

Janell and Lana with Vacation Rental colleagues from Oahu and Maui.

Janell and Lana with Vacation Rental colleagues from Oahu and Maui.

There was so much content during the day that we hardly had time to regroup and see each other but we were able to come together at night and network with our Hawaii VR Ohana, meeting industry professionals from Maui and Oahu. We found the connections, feeling of home, and sharing of ideas invaluable. It also didn’t hurt that one of us, see our picture below, was super tall and could see our way through the crowds for the grand finale Maroon 5 concert with special surprise guest, Lady Gaga. We ended our time in LA with a trip to Birdie’s, a fried chicken and doughnut shop that was conveniently located on the walk between the venue and our hotel. I shamelessly tried a sample of almost every single doughnut and then of course bought the one that I didn’t try. When I apologized I got the ultimate customer service lesson. The young kid behind the counter eased my fears of being a pain by telling me that everyone did that and it was human psychology. He went on to say how much they loved helping customers with new experiences, apparently this truly was the buzz word of the trip, and how human nature was the same everywhere you go and we can’t hate on that, we have to embrace it. Did Airbnb prep and plant this guy? I wasn’t sure but it was one of the most valuable lessons for me personally from the whole weekend because I always want our guests to feel welcomed and appreciated, plus I thoroughly enjoyed my candied bacon maple glazed doughnut.

A big mahalo to our guests for making our attendance possible and to Airbnb for helping us island girls belong anywhere, even in Downtown LA.

Kauai Vacation Rentals, Realty Services and Concierge

For the finest quality Kauai vacation rentals including luxury estates, condos, cottages and beach villas, see our Kauai Vacation Rental Galleries or use our new Map-Based Vacation Rental Search feature.

If you are considering buying a home on Kauai you can see some of the island’s best real estate deals by browsing through the Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty Kauai Real Estate Galleries, or use the Map-Based Kauai Home Search.

Also please feel free to give us a call. The Bali Hai Realty staff will be happy to help you find the perfect Kauai vacation rental or assist you in the process of buying or selling a Kauai home. We also offer the highest level of personalized Concierge Services to help you plan your Kauai vacation activities.

 

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