What Airbnb can teach us about hosting business meetings

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You are in a neighborhood you have never been before. You double-check the address, a last glance on the watch.

Finally, you approach the building. The door opens and your host smiles at you. Immediately you feel at home...

I have been using Airbnb for many years and I must say that I have always been impressed by how friendly the hosts are.

Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, explained the importance of being a host brilliantly in this presentation he made to an audience made up of his own hosts.

 
Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky's keynote at Airbnb Open 2016

 

It reminded me how special I felt when I visited Kepa in San Francisco or Mark in London. While watching this video during my stay I wondered what business hosts can learn from Kepa or Mark or from Airbnb in general. How can we be a great host of a 2-hour meeting?

Let me share with you my top 3 personal Airbnb hospitality take-aways that will hopefully help you to become a better business host. This could be one of the easiest resolutions you make for 2016 :-)

Hosting is about connecting

I love meeting people; I think that you can learn a lot by looking into people's eyes. Sometimes it is easy to forget that business is foremost about people; the connections that those people make with each other and the solutions they provide to people’s problems.

Connecting is about caring, it starts before the meeting by providing all the information your visitor needs to plan a trip. Are there repair works blocking a nearby street? Can it be difficult to find a cab at the airport or to park near your office? Put yourself into your visitor's shoes and anticipate their needs before they know them.

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Hosting is a crucial part of building connections. As long as we will connect with one another we will be always hosting.

Just like an Airbnb host connects with their guests and helps them to create long-lasting travel memories, you as a corporate host can deepen your business relationships with your visitors through putting emphasis on hospitality in your everyday processes.

The love affair of hospitality and technology

In the 21st century, great corporate hospitality cannot be achieved with human connections alone anymore. Daily modern life makes technology a necessity. In the past I have written about how technology is set to transform your office reception.

Airbnb’s hospitality is supported by its website and mobile app to ensure a smooth, easy and trustable hosting experience.

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Technology has already started to flirt with corporate hospitality a long time ago. However, only within the last two years has this seemingly innocent love affair took off and completely revolutionized the corporate visitor experience.

As an example it is not unthinkable anymore to use technology to save visitors' preferences. If a regular visitor is a tea drinker who reads the New York Times in the lobby why not save this information for a next visit so that you can anticipate their needs?

A few years ago when I first started encouraging companies to replace their antiquated paper logbook with a sign-in screen the vast majority did not see the need to upgrade the visitor experience.

Today it's a different story. As most business visitors have their own smartphone or tablet at home, it has slowly become more awkward to use a pen and a paper logbook at a front desk.

Bringing this simple process online generates new and exciting opportunities.

 

Transforming a visit into an experience

Naturally hosting plays a more prominent role for companies like Airbnb within the hospitality industry than for other businesses. It is the core of their business, after all.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that part of corporate hospitality in general and part of a Facility Managers role in particular, is to transform a visit into an experience.

As a Facility Manager you should:

  • Create experiences that define how your company is perceived from the outside world as soon as a visitor enters your premises
  • Empower your staff to make constant connections with people, use technology to support the process and make visitors feel at home

blog-airbnb-hospitality-tip.pngConfirmation message to host includes a hospitality tip

I had to think of the classic read of “The Experience Economy”, in which Pine and Glimore argue that the actual product is not the product itself but the memorable events that customers experience with it.

A short visitor experience is a glimpse of what it would be like to have your company around for longer. First impressions are everything.

Smiling visitors, a first step towards successful business

I want to feel welcome wherever I go. Don’t we all want that? We want to feel welcome when we travel, when we do our groceries and when we visit a company.

Becoming better hosts is small effort for high reward.


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How to do it? By simply connecting with people, starting a love affair with technology and providing a memorable experience for your visitor. The right visitor management system can certainly spark that chain of action.

The door closes and your visitor smiles. He had felt immediately at home.


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