To improve their business, corporations can spend millions on consultants and market research. Or the CEO can go on Twitter and ask his followers.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky took the budget path this week when he posed a simple question:
The suggestions poured in, more than 1,000 in all. Chesky responded to dozens of the contributors, complimenting their ideas, asking for more details, or gently pointing out if Airbnb already was delivering on their wishes. While there was some sniping about Airbnb’s regulatory conflicts with cities and the problem of discriminatory hosts, for the most part the suggestions were from hosts and guests asking for small tweaks to the service, which Chesky seemed happy to consider.
Along the way, he provided a template for how a modern CEO can personally engage with customers in a low-risk, low-key format. By hosting what was essentially a global town hall, Chesky forged a stronger bond with Airbnb’s fans, dispelled some misconceptions, and may have won over some skeptics by putting a human face on an increasingly large and impersonal corporation.
Some of the requests were simple:
Others were more complex. One follower suggested Airbnb supply its hosts to showcase consumer products, like Casper mattresses. Chesky was intrigued:
Some Airbnb users want to meet each other, and Chesky was eager to please:
They want more tools to help them search for places to stay. Chesky seemed on board:
No idea seemed too far-fetched for Chesky:
They also vented their frustrations with the site. Chesky listened and responded:
Chesky was even enthusiastic about being asked to give his money away:
And while most of the ideas were improvements that could be implemented this year, some were slightly more ambitious.