A Galway entrepreneur has been invited by Airbnb to speak at their global conference in Los Angeles, California this November.
Businessman Eugene Burke will be speaking to a crowd of 2,000 about his success as a host on the home-sharing platform and offering advice to attendees on how they can improve their own hosting skills.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” says Mr Burke. “There are over 600,000 hosts worldwide, so to be chosen by Airbnb as one of only 60 people to speak at the Open is a huge compliment. I must be doing something right! I’m proud to be able to showcase Galway and Ireland on the world stage and highlight its’ unique culture and hospitality.”
The Airbnb Open, billed as a global hospitality festival, is in its 3rd year, with 6,000 guests and hosts expected to attend the 3-day event in Downtown Los Angeles. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Gwenyth Paltrow, and James Corden will be presenting alongside industry leaders from the worlds of technology, hospitality, and travel. The festival concludes with a star-studded awards show and open-air cultural fair that will attract some 20,000 people.
Mr Burke has been an Airbnb host for more than three years and is one of Ireland’s most prolific Superhosts, with over 650 guest reviews. In May 2016, he was awarded the title of “Irish Community Champion” by Airbnb for his strong advocacy of the sharing economy in Ireland. His success on the website encouraged him to start NestEgg, an Airbnb consultancy and co-hosting company that helps home-owners manage the running and maintenance of their Airbnb listings.
“What started out as an entrepreneurial experiment has led to the creation of a successful business, and with it, jobs for myself and my support staff,” says Mr Burke. “I’m helping home-owners tap into additional income from their properties and I’m giving visitors to Galway a top-quality holiday experience. It’s win-win.”
What’s the secret to his success? “Passion,” says Mr Burke. “I’m passionate about promoting the best of the West; it’s arts, culture, food, and heritage. There’s so much of it on the Atlantic Coast. I love being able to share my passion for local businesses and cultural talent with my guests. The ultimate compliment a guest can give is to tell you that yours is their favourite Irish city. That’s music to my ears,” he explains. “That’s why I do it. I get to re-discover my own city through the eyes of each new guest. And I think that’s why I’m a Superhost,” he explains.
Only eight per cent of Airbnb hosts worldwide are Superhosts; a coveted title which reflects the hosts dedication, experience and creativity. Superhost status is achieved by meeting specific performance targets as a host.
Mr Burke attended last year’s conference in Paris, which was cut short by terrorist attacks. Of the experience he says, “I was only a few hundred metres from the Bataclan when the attacks occurred. It was a surreal and terrifying experience and a sobering way to end last year’s conference. But I formed some great friendships with hosts from all over the world while I was there, and I’ll look forward to catching up with some of them again in Los Angeles.”
With over 2 million listings in 191 countries worldwide Airbnb, which has its European headquarters in Dublin, was recently valued at $US30 billion. Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, the website which allows home-owners to rent out their property to travelling guests, has grown to become one of the largest online accommodation portals in the world.
Speaking of his plans after LA, Mr Burke says, “My focus is on helping others get started with their own Airbnb journey. I’d like to see NestEgg grow. And I’d also like to start a dialogue with local authority about the future of the sharing economy and why it is something to be encouraged rather than feared. The sharing economy is good for local economies. Our government needs to wrap its head around it sooner rather than later, and the good news is that Airbnb hosts are more than willing to come to the table and lead that conversation.”
The Airbnb Open takes place in Downtown Los Angeles from November 17-19.