The company Airbnb is using to help nomadic tribes host guests

Airbnb’s wants to help rural communities — often neglected by Big Tech — use the platform as a form of “economic empowerment and community development.”


November 20, 2018

Finding an Airbnb in an unfamiliar place can be challenging — especially when your rental is hosted by nomadic reindeer herders in Mongolia.

But a recent partnership with UK-based geocoding platform what3words is likely to make life easier for off-the-beaten-path trekkers and Airbnb hosts in remote areas.

What the what?

Traditionally, it’s been tough for off-the-grid, nomadic hosts to post listings on Airbnb — partly because when you’re in an area without street names, you have to rely on encoding processes that mark locations using super long, confusing strings of numbers and letters.

Instead, what3words divides the world into a grid of 57 trillion 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigns each a unique 3-word address (the torch on the Statue of Liberty, for instance, is “toned.melt.ship”).

This simplification enables travelers to meet up with hosts at hyper-specific locations…

Like the edge of a Mongolian forest

A recent listing — dubbed “the most remote Airbnb in the world” — offers a stay with a nomadic reindeer herding family in Mongolia.

Visitors can use what3words to pinpoint a meetup location in the forest, where they are escorted, on horseback, into a teepee camp in the mountains. Once there, you can guzzle reindeer milk tea to your heart’s content.

It’s part of Airbnb’s larger effort to help rural communities — often neglected by Big Tech — use the platform as a form of “economic empowerment and community development.”

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