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Exclusive Q&A: Airbnb's Jaja Jackson On Forging Partnerships To Build The City Of The Future

Home-sharing could have a substantial effect on cities and future development, according to Airbnb's Jaja Jackson. We spoke with Jaja on home-sharing, seeking out partnerships and shaping the cities of the future. He'll be a speaker at Bisnow's Silicon Valley State of the Market event Sept. 15 in San Jose.


Jaja is director of Global Multifamily Housing Partnerships at Airbnb. Essentially, his job is to connect with and bring building owners, hosts, guests and neighborhood leaders into the Airbnb network. Prior to joining Airbnb, he had a 14-year career in real estate as both a developer and property manager in San Francisco. His last role before Airbnb was leading Emerald Fund’s property management division. Jaja has managed apartment buildings, single-family homes and even condo associations.

Bisnow: You're in charge of putting housing partnerships in place at Airbnb. What does that involve?

Jaja Jackson: We work closely with building owners, property managers and HOA boards to help answer their questions and identify the best ways for us to work together to support them and their residents.

Bisnow: What concerns do you face from the other side of your meetings? How do you educate them on the benefits of working with you?

Jaja: Most of the folks we meet with don’t know much about Airbnb and how it works. We work with them to educate them about the benefits of home-sharing for their residents, neighborhoods and community. We also discuss the tools we have to build trust. Our community is growing quickly because it is built on trust—it is the foundation of our business. We’ve developed a number of key features that help to build this trust.

First, Airbnb uses sophisticated technologies and behavioral analysis techniques to help prevent potentially troublesome hosts or guests from utilizing the platform in the first place. For United States residents, we also run host and guest information through several public databases to check if there are matches with certain felony convictions, sex offender registrations or significant misdemeanors.

Second, we maximize transparency by allowing hosts to require that guests provide a government ID, and we created a program called Verified ID, which connects a person’s offline identification (a driver's license or passport) with another online profile to their Airbnb account, such as Facebook, Google or their LinkedIn account.

Third, we provide ways for hosts and guests to communicate and get to know one another before a trip occurs. Our community builds trust and a track record for users to be able to learn more about each other through publicly available reviews and feedback.

Finally, we have your back in the very unusual event that a problem occurs. If a guest or a host ever has an issue, our 250-person-plus global Trust and Safety team is on call 24/7 to help. And we offer Host Protection Insurance and a $1M Host Guarantee to help protect eligible hosts and their property.


Bisnow: How will home-sharing services like Airbnb change cities? (Airbnb HQ in Toronto pictured above.)

Jaja: Economic inequality is a significant challenge, and Airbnb is democratizing capitalism by helping people turn their greatest expense —their home—into an asset. The typical host is middle class and shares their home around 47 times a year—three to four days a month—and earns $7,500 in additional income. Most of our hosts use the income to help make ends meet. Hosts keep 97% of the price they charge for their listing and the typical US host earns the equivalent of a 14% annual raise at a time where economic inequality is a major challenge.

Airbnb also gives millions of everyday people the chance to travel to cities and neighborhoods they might have missed. 31% of the people who travel on Airbnb say they would have stayed home or wouldn’t have stayed as long but for Airbnb. And we are disproportionately bringing economics to neighborhoods that have not typically benefited from tourism.

Bisnow: What is your top concern with working with developers? Cities?

Jaja: We want to ensure everyone we work with understands how Airbnb helps people share the home in which they live. Our guests expect a local authentic experience and we want to help our hosts share their space and the communities they love.

Related Topics: airbnb, Jaja Jackson