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SXSW: Airbnb, Trust, and the Sharing Economy

“Trust is so important to all these marketplaces,” said Nate Blecharczyk, co-founder and CTO of Airbnb today at South By Southwest in a panel called “David over Goliath: Power of the Sharing Economy” led by Tim O’Reilly.

ImageJoined by Shelby Clark, founder of RelayRides and Juliet Gorman, communications director of Etsy, the panel discussed the significance of social reputation in a new sharing economy. O’Reilly floated the idea to the speakers, “We should be pushing reputation systems as alternatives to regulations in these spaces.” They agreed, with Blecharczyk asserting that reputation systems protect consumers, and Clark saying that accountability and transparency serve the same goals.

After the panel, Blecharczyk told SMT, “Reputations are super important. More or less everyone has a Facebook profile now. Some people feel if you don’t have a Facebook profile you’re less reputable.” He went on to cite one of the reasons Facebook was successful was that they insisted on users registering with their real name. “Over the years,” he said, “that’s really changed people’s perception of how you can trust their information online.” 

Blecharczyk explained, “Airbnb specifically uses a feature called social connections. If you’re a host and a guest wants to satay with you, we show how this guest is friends with other members of the Airbnb community who are more reputable.” He continued to say that if a member doesn’t yet have a reputation on their site, they could still be associated with other people who are trusted in the Airbnb community, serving as its own social validator. “We’re trying to pull in that information and use it for more than just fun and games, what the platform was originally used for. This is an example of reputation that applies to all our businesses. We should all be pulling this social data and exposing it.”

Note: SMT staff is staying at an Airbnb apartment at SXSW.

Image credit: Getty

Join The Conversation

  • annabel_coleman's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 4 years ago annabel_coleman

    Airbnb adds its own fees, as do some of those who provide the lodging, so it is essential to read the fine print before booking a place to stay. Also, the amenities may vary greatly from venue to venue. However, the site offers user reviews, which may give you a better idea of what to expect from each offering.

  • EricSchwartzman's picture
    Mar 10 Posted 4 years ago EricSchwartzman

    AirBNB, and most collaborative consumption models for that matter, too often fail consumers. AirBNB leaves travelers stranded and keeps their good faith deposit all the time:

    I've experienced their arrogance first hand. That they would be talking about the importance of trust makes my stomach turn:

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