Stories Travels

Airbnb Open Paris 2015

Made it to the Grande Halle and the Airbnb Open around 2pm, just in time for lunch, mingling and I got a front row seat for the afternoon keynote.

I can’t even begin to express how awesome my afternoon was…probably the highlight of my career so far! Hearing the story of Michael & Debbie  – The Senior Nomads from Seattle, traveling the world with Airbnb was amazing! And getting an inside look into the Belong Anywhere journey and vision with Douglas Atkins, Global Head of Community was awe-inspiring — my notebook seriously lacked blank pages after his session.

During the Airbnb Open, Chip Conley, Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb taught us about Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs, during his ‘Hospitality Moments of Truth’ session on Thursday  – he talked about how we as humans all fall into the same pyramid of basic needs. At the bottom are our survival needs, next our success needs and finally, at the top, our transformation needs! I think the reason why I can say that this might be the “highlight” of my career so far, is because, for me, this conference and especially this afternoon’s keynote was transformational in a way that not only challenged my current thinking, but also met my self-actualization needs. My current world view was completely challenged in a very transformational way.

Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder, held an exceptional, inspiring and very personal presentation, sharing his vision for Airbnb and the future of traveling. He started out by showing us pictures of how his parents traveled to Paris (a destination they always wanted to experience) and how they went to see Mona Lisa (along with hundreds of others) just to take a picture and how they went to Louvre and stood in line (in the rain) along with hundreds of others, just to be able to say “We were here” and finally how they took a selfie by the Eiffel Tower and rode the Red Sightseeing Bus and ate lunch at Subway…it was so strong, so epic, charming and personal and the message was crystal clear — and I loved every bit of it. This is exactly the problem with a lot of travel and why the idea of travel in modern times is; being alone. Alain de Botton taught us that there’s a subtle difference between the idea of traveling vs. living — I couldn’t agree more. Living is belonging, as Brian Chesky so elegantly stated during his keynote:

“Paris should be experienced through its people. Don’t travel to Paris. Live in Paris.”

With Airbnb you can belong in places where you didn’t before – you can belong outside of your comfort zone. This is exactly why I am in love with this vision and with Airbnb, because:

“We wanna encourage people to, not go to Paris, but to actually live there.”  –  Brian Chesky.

This message is so clearly imprinted into my memory of that afternoon keynote session, what would also be the last gathering during the Open. I felt high from the atmosphere, the crowd and the strong messages, the words, the people…but for some strange reason, I also felt a bit sad after this session, as if I knew that this would be the last one and I would be going home soon. Kind of the same feeling you have on that very last evening of an amazing holiday, trip or journey.

Funny thing happened that afternoon, during the keynote, someone from a US number had called me on my Danish cell phone…after I had submitted my application earlier that morning, I got an email back saying that Airbnb would contact me through a US number and that I should save it to my contacts, being in a hurry, I didn’t have time to save it, as I rushed to the Open. So when I saw that US phone number after the keynote, I thought for a very brief moment that Airbnb had called me regarding my application — that MUST be a good sign I remember thinking!

Turns out, it was Jeff Sharlet @jeffsharlet who had called me, writer from Travel+Leisure Magazine saying he loved my letter that I had posted to my Instagram earlier that week, and that he would like to include a bit of it in the story he was doing about the culture of hosting and sharing. I was so surprised to see that he was also there at the Open and we ended up connecting afterwards and we just sat and talked for a while. It was so amazing to be able to meet Jeff and photographer Tanja @tanjahollander who were both in Paris covering the Open. After hearing my story, they told me: “Airbnb should definitely give you a job.” “Please write that in your article”, I replied.

After meeting Jeff and Tanja, I texted my friend Iben: “Hey girl, what’s up?” Since I was probably the only one who didn’t have dinner plans that Friday evening, she luckily responded: “At the office, just leaving, meet up for wine?” I was estatic, adrenaline rushing through my mind and body and my fingertips, I was exhausted, seriously sleep deprived but seriously high on endorphins like a Magical Trip. One of those nights where you go out into the night and it’s wonderful, you’re spontaneous and you smile — just smile at everybody and never stop…

If you want to read the next chapter of that same evening, which also happened to be the night of the Paris Terrorist Attacks, read on here.

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