To Power Its Transportation Ambitions, Airbnb Looks to Design
The commercial success that Airbnb has garnered in the last 10 years is undisputed. Not content with just becoming the market leader in short-term home rentals, the Silicon Valley company has since gone on to offer its users travel advice, in-depth travel guides based on local knowledge and personalized experiences lead by local hosts to further foster its tightly knit and ever growing community.
Speaking at the Fortune and Wallpaper* Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore on Tuesday, Airbnb director of transportation Jenny Arden emphasized that the company’s approach was still very much rooted in design.
“My role at Airbnb has been a design role,” she said. “I’ve been a design director and so I’ve had the responsibility of representing the users—that’s the ultimate job to represent that voice and make sure that the customer has not been forgotten in the strategy, planning, and development. My transition is now into a business role [and covers things] you wouldn’t normally put the designer responsible for.”
Arden continued: “The reason we are doing this, is that we believe that first and foremost, as a business, we design the products that people need, that they want. Then from there, a strategy unfolds and you start to discover. A lot of what I do is similar to a start-up. I act as an entrepreneur and founder—there is no job too small.”
In her current position, Arden plays a galvanizing role in shaping Airbnb’s latest ambition: to revolutionize the air travel and transportation aspects of traveling, as was revealed publicly last month. Building on the company’s aspirations to become a one-stop shop for all aspects of the travel experience, Airbnb recently hired Fred Reid, formerly the CEO and founder of Virgin America, to serve as its global head of transportation.
While the exact focus on what transportation may entail for the company is still being kept under wraps, Arden said, “Our mission at Airbnb is to provide a world where anyone can belong anywhere. This really means you can travel to a community you’ve never seen before and feel like you’re a welcome member there, even if it’s just temporarily. My hope is that all that mission and vision can be achieved in all stages of the trip. There should be no lack of thought that went into the end-to-end experience.” Watch this space.
For more coverage from Fortune’s Brainstorm Design conference, click here.