Joseph Michelli’s “The Airbnb Way”: 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth Through Loyalty

Joseph Michelli’s The Airbnb Way5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth Through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging provides such a comprehensive overview of its chosen subject that this review can hardly do it justice. Michelli’s extensive bibliography on similar themes attests to his forward thinking theories about the relationship between successful business/leadership practices and human interaction at the dawn of a new age in the species’ history and, to be frank, this might well be his strongest work to date. He has chosen an excellent focus point for his writing by taking an in-depth look at Airbnb, its meteoric rise, and the factors setting it apart from fraying traditional models and its contemporaries alike. Michelli grounds the book on multiple fronts; he draws from a wide array of tools like personal testimonials, company histories, comparison/contrast, hard data, and a variety of illustrations and check lists buttressing his points. It makes for a winning concoction.


The book unfolds in a logical fashion. He establishes background on Airbnb’s rise from an unlikely startup into a global force today that has redefined the travel experience. He then proceeds into a systemic appraisal of how their approach melds innovative and ever changing technology with their zeal for customer service. He reinforces this discussion along the way with facts and data supporting Airbnb’s conclusions while arriving at his own assessments as well, yet you will find no to little evidence of Michelli “siding” with one approach over another. The book, instead, says in so many words that whatever you think of the approach, you cannot argue with its success.

He supports his discussion of their succession with numerous stories from perspectives of customers and service providers alike. Outside sources are, likewise, critically important to the book’s development without overshadowing other elements or contributions to the text. His “lessons” are laid out in a clear and comprehensible manner for readers and there’s never any sense of Michelli talking down or lecturing his audience; indeed, he comes across as invested in the success of anyone interested in the book’s guidance. This is one of the book’s greatest merits and abiding fixture throughout its pages.


It is lengthy for its type but never exhaustive; no one will feel overwhelmed by what Michelli offers here and it is the kind of volume you can open at any point and draw from rather than feeling beholden to read it from beginning to end to glean its knowledge. The book does an excellent job, as well, of discussing Airbnb and other likeminded companies’ impact on societal changes announcing themselves with increasing frequency and how their business policies respond to these transformations and, in some cases, crisis points. The conclusion of the book emphasizes our inter-connectivity in the modern world, connections far superseding the obvious technological ones, and it provides a satisfying note to end things on. The Airbnb Way5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth Through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging is a work responding to the needs of a particular moment in history, to be sure, but it has a much wider scope that will reward countless readers.

Clay Burton