How to Make Your Child Happy – Sleeping in a Treehouse

In the race to be coolest dad, the hunt for new treehouses is on! Last January I took my daughter to a treehouse adventure for her 6th birthday. This weekend I treated my son for a night stay in a treehouse for his 5th birthday. This time the treehouse was a little bit further out of the safe area of San Francisco, this treehouse is located in the Santa Cruz mountains in between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Right in the middle of the Redwood tree forest, you can find this Redwood Treehouse.

Tweet this: Happy Child - Sleeping in a Treehouse @airbnb

The drive up is hard, especially as we did it in the dark, and relied on our GPS to get there. Big mistake, as the GPS did send us over the long road, through the woods, where the road was not paved. Without blankets or a lot of food and water in the car, being on the road where nobody drives made me nervous. Eventually we made it.

The treehouse sits deep into the woods, where we needed to walk for 4-5 minutes over a small unpaved trail to get there. For Mr. D this was a little scary. Thank god for the iPhone having a flashlight build in, so we could find our way to the treehouse. And then, after 5 minutes we saw this...

Redwood treehouse on Airbnb entrance bridge at night
Redwood tree forrest treehouse at night

These two pictures were taken with a tripod and a ultra long exposure time, since it is very dark in the woods after sunset. The Redwood trees are so high, that even at sunset the darkness comes really early.

The treehouse is cozy, and has room for two, who will easily fit. In the picture below you will see that there is even a kitchen, and next to the table there is a door which leads to the bathroom with a toilet and a shower. Outside, there is even a hot-tub, one we didn't use, since we were late.
Treehouse in the Redwood trees forrest , picture from the insideIn the morning we were enjoying the sunrise from our bed. We woke extra early at dawn to experience the sun bringing the light in between the trees, waking up the forest.

The picture below is made by Mr. D who really wanted to make a picture of me with the treehouse.

Dennis Goedegebuure at the Redwood treehouse rented for a night at Airbnb

Redwood treehouse on Airbnb entranceThat was another treehouse adventure with one of my kids. Next year I will take the two, to give Fiona a break with the baby. That will be fun! Now on to look for another treehouse! Which one do you think we need to go visit?

Redwood treehouse inside

Thanks Airbnb for Giving me the Chance to Build Lasting Memories with my Kids

If it wasn't for Airbnb, we probably would have never started this family tradition. Where else can you find fun places to stay for a short staycation? I have my eye set on one of these Modernist Marvels, sleeping in a train or in one of these cool Airstreams. Hey, I'm Dutch, don't judge our love for Caravans! Enough to explore on Airbnb before we go checking on all these Exceptional Treehouses.

The ability to stay in these cool places with my kids is helping me to build lasting memories of cool things my kids did when they were young. As my daughter was drawing a picture from the treehouse after her holidays break, instead of her Christmas presents, it shows how important and valuable these moments are for kids. If I keep up the tradition to go to a different treehouse every year, they will cherish these memories for the rest of their lives. That is worth much more than the next Barbie doll or Choo Choo train made in China.

Thanks Airbnb!

On our way back to San Francisco, we made a quick stop at Casa del 17, which is a road restaurant next to highway 17 in between Santa Cruz and San Jose. You can find these wooden statues there...

Casa del 17 - a bunch of happy faces

Airbnb Blog Running on WordPress, Genesis & Websynthesis

With Posterous closing, a race started a couple of weeks ago to move the Airbnb blogs from Posterous to WordPress. Lucky me, I have a number of years experience with WordPress, and more lucky me, I know people who even have more experience with WordPress and WordPress hosting. The Airbnb blogs are now running on the following stack:

teach them young So yesterday evening, I was busy checking all the migrations with my little man with me. Teach them young they say..

Just in time for our major Trust announcement this morning. Now, all we need to do, is create a new child theme, so that we can style the blogs completely according to Airbnb standards... So much opportunity to expand right now, having full control! Love it!

Other blog we migrated is the Nerds at Airbnb! Worth it to check out if you are into coding

Sleeping in a Treehouse

Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Since I joined Airbnb a couple of weeks ago, I have been steadily checking the boxes on my on boarding process. The final on boarding action I need to check off my list, is to actually book and stay with an Airbnb host in their property. So I made a plan...

Build Lasting Memories

When I was young, I went on summer holidays with my family. I can still remember flashes of these, stopping at French wine houses to buy wine, on which European citizens still needed to pay duty when crossing the borders, Spending countless hours playing on the beach in the water with my brother or finally getting my own tent when camping. Those memories last a lifetime!

Having small children myself now, I want to spend sufficient time with them, so that I'm able to build similar lasting memories. However, that is not always easy, busy life, not a lot of long vacations and a new baby on its way.

So what better opportunity to spend time with the kids while staying in an awesome place. Airbnb is not only good to find your vacation rental for a longer stay, there are plenty of great listings in which you can just stay for a night, or two.

Pajama Party in the Treehouse

As our CEO Brian Chesky just recently mentioned in a TV show about Airbnb;

"We want to provide incredibly local and personal experience when you travel. people love homes and that's why you live in them. What if you can feel at home anywhere in the world?"

So for my daughters 6th birthday, I arranged the ultimate birthday party adventure. What better adventure is there than staying in this Treehouse close to San Francisco...! It was magical and resulted in a family plan to pick a treehouse to stay at every year. Now my son of 4 can't stop talking about how much he would like to stay in a treehouse for a night together with Daddy!

A Treehouse for Every Year

So to keep this tradition going, Jools and I made the plan to go visit a different treehouse every year, and try to sleep a night in the Treehouse. Luckily for Dad, there are a great number of Treehouses around the world, with a good selection of tree houses available here in California!
Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Treehouse at the Sunset time.

Evening Pajama party in a treehouse, Bo-Jools

Airbnb Treehouse near San Francisco at Dawn. Sunrise above the Bay

Morning sunrise at Airbnb Treehouse Burlingame

Two Mushrooms at sunrise

Mushroom in the morning sunlight

My Review

For my daughters 6th Birthday, we rented Doug & Linda's treehouse. It was an unbelievable experience, and probably will stick with her for the rest of her life as a fond memory of her childhood. Although it was raining really hard upon arrival, the treehouse is built solid and can stand the wind and rain. The host, Doug, was very friendly, and had the treehouse ready for checkin an hour earlier than normal.

We had cake and hot chocolate while lounging in the treehouse with the rain falling on the roof, making that cozy noise. Pajama Party For The Win! Waking up, the sky had cleared, and we experienced a beautiful sunrise above the Bay of San Francisco. We enjoyed the breakfast supplied by our hosts, and spend more time in the garden on the swing, finding mushrooms and enjoying the nature.

The Treehouse is an absolute recommended experience for anybody who ever wanted to sleep a night in a Treehouse, or just as an adventurous overnight stay while on a trip through California. It's just a great vacation rental for anybody on a holiday in the Bay Area!

Feel free to Tweet this experience:

Pied a Terre Shoe Ads

While doing some research for KW/Page rankings for Airbnb, I came across an un-related paid search advertisement by my former employer, eBay. It's kind of funny that I used to know how keywords would flow into the paid search systems for those targeted ads, and sometimes completely unrelated ads could have massive Return on Investment. Here, I was looking at the keyword Pied a Terre, where a lovely room in Philly ranks just on the second page for me. Rittenhouse Squared Pied a Terre, $80 per night!

According to the all knowing Wikipedia, a Pied a Terre is

The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence, either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a person of some means.

It looks like the Ad generated by the eBay Paid Search system is based on the French word Pied, which means Feet.

Pied a Terre eBay Ads
In the past, there have been plenty of strange eBay paid search ads shared. Over the years, the systems used to optimize those ads had become much better to filter out the obvious wrong keywords to bid on. I heard eBay is moving away from their internally build system to an outsourced solution, where we probably can expect a learning curve again around what keywords are relevant, which creative needs to be served for those keywords, and how to optimize for conversion and ROI. What a waste...

Boris & Patrick Visit Airbnb

Almost 7 years ago, I moved to San Francisco while working at eBay. The first summer living in the US, I hosted a BBQ for a group of Dutch Internet entrepreneurs at my house who were visiting the Valley. Part of that group Dutch Internet entrepreneurs were Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten & Patrick de Laive. At the time they were looking for funding for one of their startups, Fleck. Boris & Patrick were always in for some fun which could generate the attention from the right people. Eventually they didn't got the funding for Fleck, and sold the assets. Maybe better, as they continued to work on other great concepts, one of these the technology news website and conference: The Next Web.

Over the years The Next Web has been growing in audience, exposure and breaking stories. It will just be a matter of time for the team of The Next Web to become the #1 Technology blog on the Techmeme leaderboard. A position taken for years by Techcrunch. So with that in mind, it's always nice to see how Boris and Patrick has been able to keep their feet on the ground, and make the time at the last moment to catch up over beers at the Airbnb office today. It's always great to keep good relationships alive and kicking!

Boris & Patrick - The Next Web visiting the Airbnb office

What’s for Dinner; Job Interview

The way Airbnb is taking care of its employees is amazing. What is even more fun, is that I just participated in the best interviewing of a candidate ever. How about you're being asked to be part of the last round of interviews of a candidate for the position of Sous Chef at Airbnb, and the interview round consist of eating a specially prepared dinner by the candidate. Obviously, the interviewee would like to be hired, so will be pulling all the best tricks out of his/her book. This just happened to me today, where you can see what I just had for dinner below here. The names of the candidate have been changed to protect the innocent.

So tonight I had a California/Asian Dinner with:

  • Arugula Salad, with Shaved Carrot, Pine Nut, Candied Coconut with Miso Dressing
  • Korean Style BBQ Beef; Beef, Garlic, Tamari, Sugar, Sesame oil and Green Onion
  • Curried Quinoa; Sauteed Onion, Black Bean and Butternut Squash
  • Sauteed Nappa Cabbage; with Rainbow Carrot & Ginger Sauce

Airbnb dinner - interviewing a candidate for Sous chef position

Doesn't it look wonderful? It tasted delicious. I immediately volunteered to be on the interview panel for the next candidates. I was feeling like a judge of the TV-Show Top-Chef.

But even the Popcorn at Airbnb is great!This is Popcorn Airbnb style!

Popcorn Airbnb Style

I explained before that we take our food program really serious! Today we had Truffle and Nutritional Yeast Popcorn, and Chili and Lime Popcorn.YUM!


Local SEO Travel Guides or Great UX

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post of my move to join Airbnb. Then I got a major shout out for a new product of Airbnb launched just a couple of  weeks ago, the local travel guides for Neighborhoods. I wish I could take that much credit, but these Neighborhood guides were already in the works prior to me joining the company. And although I did reviewed the code, content set up and site structure and worked on the Richmond District guide and the Noe Valley Neighborhood, all credits should be shouted at the team who pulled long evenings, worked weekends and crashed after the launch party, satisfied with the great press we got!

Credit Where Credit is Due

As the SEO community has embraced the concept of Content Marketing, or any name used for the way to put engaging, link worthy content on the web, the Airbnb Neighborhoods have been given a warm welcome by those SEO's recognizing the value of content for driving traffic through search engines. I got these tweets in my SEO stream on Tweetdeck;  after which my buddy Matthew pointed some fingers;

Seriously Matthew, you give me too much credit here. I just started 4.5 weeks ago, and although I had seen the concept and given the chance to give SEO input a couple of weeks ago, even before I officially started at Airbnb, all credit should be going to the team who had worked on the Neighborhood project for weeks.

And I'm happy to see these pages will be used as an example in presentations by SEO professionals; and have put Airbnb on the map as a great product! Will make my life much easier to get quick wins in SEO!

My Vision for In-House SEO Engagement

So I changed the way I chat with people about SEO a little. Based on the experience over the I'm taking a new approach. Years of researching how Amazon has build an SEO powerhouse, listening how Googlers would answer questions, testing and walking the fine line of technical SEO, here is how I will get teams in gear to get SEO "right"!

The Key to SEO success is to make your brand, product service so relevant for people, that they expect your site at the top of the search engines when a search is made.

Wow, that sounds really simple if you say this out loud like this, but essentially it's what is described above here. These neighborhood pages will function as a great resource for people who travel to a certain destination to find out for themselves in which area they would like to stay. And with the recent Economic Impact Study of Airbnb in local communities (TC link & AllthingsD), you can find a great place to stay and support local businesses.

So, get your ducks in a row with the technical parts of SEO, because every site still needs an SEO friendly technical infrastructure, and start building products better than average. Success in the search engines will follow...