Airbnb First Impressions

Is Airbnb an alternative to hotels?

Is Airbnb a good alternative for business travel?

After searching for hotels near the Dreamforce event and finding them quite expensive, Moe and I decided to search for an available location on Airbnb.  It was our first experience using the service.    

In case you’re not familiar with it, Airbnb was started in 2008, and is a community marketplace where you can book spaces from people who have rooms or houses to spare.  There are places available in 34,000 cities in 192 countries.  Pretty amazing!

Moe ended up finding a nice place about 30 minutes from the convention center.

Described as a “Lovely Historic Italianate House, ” we had a bedroom, family room, and bathroom to use for $99 p/night.  You can see it here along with more pictures.

We entered through a door with a security code, and basically lived in the house with the owners for the 3 nights of our trip.

Our hosts were very kind and friendly.  I ended up getting a stomach bug the first night of our trip, and the lady of the house happened to be an ER nurse.  She was very kind in helping me feel better, which obviously isn’t part of the Airbnb service, but goes a long way in establishing the value of the brand (at least in my mind).

After this experience, I think we’ll definitely consider using Airbnb for certain business trips as opposed to the traditional hotel.  It may save money and help make new friends.

What else?  What are your thoughts on using Airbnb as opposed to hotels for business travel? 


Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?

Is Dreamforce Worth It?  (Wonder what this guy would say … must be hot in there!)

After attending this year’s Dreamforce, a number of friends and colleagues have asked whether Dreamforce is worth the investment of time and money.

Here are my thoughts after attending for the first time.

As an attendee (non-exhibitor)

  1. I think it is a worthwhile use of time for anyone involved in the industry, whether you are a marketer, executive, or software entrepreneur.  Any eager “student of the game” may find value, as the conference is a good place to soak in the latest thoughts, technologies, and trends.
  2. The quality of the conversations and information available are pretty high.  You can take part in a lot for free (although you won’t get meals and some other perks, but that’s not a big deal).
  3. The caliber of the speakers is very good.  For example, the Prime Minister of Haiti was there, along with Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo).  While money isn’t everything, it’s not every day that you get to participate in a session with billionaires, heads of state, and other people who are making a difference in the world via NGOs and other charitable organizations.

As an exhibitor

  1. It certainly seems like an investment worth considering.  Given that there are 130,000 attendees, one certainly has an opportunity to be in front of a lot of people.   However, I’ll reserve judgment on this until next year’s show (we intend to exhibit).
  2. I walked through at least 3 exhibit halls, but none were gigantic.  They were each manageable in the number of aisles to walk and absorb.  I believe there were 350 total exhibitors.   To me, this means that as a newcomer, it is not impossible to get good foot traffic and generate conversations.  How many of these turn into qualified opportunities remains to be seen.
  3. Because the aisles can get super-packed, it seems that companies who clearly state their value proposition (what they do for you) at eye-level or higher have an advantage.  In some cases, I could not see what a company did because there were simply too many people in the aisles.  However, if their value prop was placed in a location above everyone’s head, it was easier to decide whether or not to make a stop.

Overall, outside of getting the flu and having to stay within a few hundred feet of a bathroom (yuck), I had a great time at the show and am definitely eager to return next year as an exhibitor.  I would say that YES, Dreamforce is worth it and is an event that should be considered.

What about you?  Do you think the show is worth the investment of time as an attendee?  How about as an exhibitor?

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