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Former Airbnb executive brings lessons back to hotels - San Francisco Chronicle
Date:  5/12/2017
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Written by: Carolyn Said
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Chip Conley (left), former Airbnb global head of hospitality, is back in the hotel business as he talks with hotel general manager Jeff Durken of the Laurel Inn, which Conley renovated to run as a hybrid vacation rental in San Francisco. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle    
Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

“Is it too cold?”

Sprawled in a turquoise velvet chair, Chip Conley fiddled with the temperature controls for the hotel room at Laurel Inn in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood.

He pulled over a small round ottoman and put up his feet, clad in tri-tone oxfords from Baja California, where he lives half-time, when he’s not at his Potrero Hill house. Many hotels save money by omitting comfy details like this, he said. But to stay fresh, hotels need to cater to evolving tastes for “unique and flavorful lodgings” that feel more homelike — a penchant propelled in part by his former employer, Airbnb, for which he still consults.

Despite his affable demeanor, Conley is viewed by some as the hotel industry’s Darth Vader: He crossed enemy lines four years ago to join a startup that is upending the traditional hotel business. Now, several months after leaving Airbnb, he has plunged back into the hotel world, bringing some of the lessons learned as the company’s global head of hospitality and strategy. At Airbnb, Conley traveled the globe as the company’s main liaison to its million hosts and helped them act more like hoteliers, providing a smoother experience and consistent standards for things like cleaning.

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