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My Griffith Story: Being proactive about my career got me a job in Airbnb

5 min

Griffith alumna Simona Zudyte explains how working for online marketplace and hospitality service provider Airbnb has given her the opportunity to use her sales, marketing and account management skills in the challenging and competitive travel sector.

Simona’s Career Path So Far

After obtaining a journalism degree, Simona quickly realised that upskilling could improve her performance and enhance her career prospects. In 2015, she completed a Diploma in Sales and Marketing at Griffith College and soon after started her career at Airbnb as Key Account Manager for UK, Ireland and the Nordic regions. Within 18 months she was promoted to Market Manager for Northern Europe:

“Being proactive about my own professional development has paid dividends. It has shown I am ambitious, keen to learn and ultimately helped me land my first job at Airbnb. It has transformed my career prospects. Airbnb is fantastic to work for and I’ve already learnt so much.”

What a job at Airbnb entails

With 4.85 million active listings, Airbnb has the largest accommodation portfolio in the travel industry, in fact, larger than the top five biggest hotel companies combined. As Airbnb’s Market Manager, it is Simona’s responsibility to manage the business’s portfolio in Northern Europe:

“I manage a diverse range of clients ranging from providers with just six properties, to others with 10,000. My main responsibility is to ensure they are set up for success when they start using the Airbnb platform.”

Identifying new partnership opportunities and successfully recruiting suitable hotel and B&B partners is a key part of Simona’s role. She also monitors strategic growth in the region:

“Each week I might focus on a specific region and review performance data. I’ll contact hosts to get their feedback, identify if there is anything missing from our offering, and ensure action is taken to address this.”

Don't get bogged down in the detail

Simona believes that sales skills and effectively prioritising are vital in her role:

As it’s such a diverse and varied market it's important for me to know how to network but also quickly recognise whether opportunities are going to pay short or long-term dividends and manage my time accordingly. Sustaining key relationships is a priority too. I have to be very strategic, set targets and have a clear idea of what I want to achieve. It’s crucial not to get bogged down in the detail, but to take a step back, re-evaluate, and not lose sight of the bigger picture.”

Simona's insider travel trends

Young millennial travellers represent 20% of international travellers. Estimates suggest that by 2020, 320 million international trips will be made by youth travellers each year. That is a staggering 47% increase from 217 million in 2013. In light of this Simona has seen a real shift in the way people travel and choose to book their holidays:

“Millennials are looking for something new when they travel – more adventurous, local and personal – and perhaps something that their peers haven’t experienced. Generally though people are moving away from the package holiday to a much more tailored approach where they want to independently book elements themselves.”

In response to this demand from travellers Airbnb launched Airbnb Experiences where activities are designed and led by locals.

Simona also comments that:

“Travel and tourism is growing faster than most of the rest of the economy so promoting healthy, sustainable tourism is particularly important. With this in mind Airbnb has just launched the Office of Healthy Tourism, a global initiative to drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities across the globe.”

A Passion For Travel

Although she had limited knowledge of the travel industry prior to working at Airbnb, Simona has always had a passion for travel and her own travel experiences have enhanced her understanding of what corporate and leisure travellers are looking for when booking accommodation.

Simona’s top travel highlights include Cornwall, a region she only discovered through Airbnb, Split in Croatia, and Andorra for its skiing. For a city break:

“I always return to Barcelona … it has everything … and Airbnb have a great insider’s guide to the city! Whenever I do get a chance I love to discover new destinations. I’d rather go to places that are off the well-trodden tourist trail, so I have the opportunity to meet locals and experience their culture.”

Simona’s Future Plans

When asked about her future plans Simona replied:

“I am ambitious and I definitely want to climb the ladder at Airbnb. The inclusive and supportive work culture at Airbnb means it’s a great place to work and I’m confident I’ll have the opportunities in the future to really reach my potential.”


Interview by Lydia Casey