FairBnB.coop is a home sharing platform for holiday rentals that redistributes the profits to local communities.

I helped FairBnB.coop in designing the tools and processes meant to incept grow their Local Nodes ecosystem.

My role:
Workshop facilitation
Platform design
Ecosystem mapping
Strategy prototyping

Maurizio Schifano
Giuseppe Sardone
Sabrina Savoca
Jonathan Reyes González


FairBnB.coop is a cooperative platform that offers a community-centered alternative to short-term holiday rental platforms like Airbnb and facilitates authentic, sustainable, and intimate travel experiences.

The platform is collectively owned and governed by those who use it and are impacted by its use: hosts, guests, local business owners, and neighbors.

To support the local communities, part of the platform profits are reinvested in Local Fair Projects that counter the negative effects of tourism. Locals will vote to support those projects they want to sustain in their neighborhoods: food coops, playgrounds, green projects, and community cafés.

The Problem

In 2019 FairBnB.coop was yet to be launched, though its value proposition was already public and its community growing.

The growth potential of the platform was not achievable through simple market competition, as stronger market leaders were already too solidly positioned.
The longest leverage to get to sustainability was to be found in the core value proposition of the platform: local communities.

To foster the early adoption of the platform by hosts, guests, and other stakeholders, a well motivated network of local communities had to be initiated.

The Local Nodes (LNs) are the entities of the FairBnB.coop ecosystem that are responsible for promoting the local adoption of the platform.
This includes catalysing meetings and collaboration between the potential stakeholders, identifying the Local Fair Projects to be funded through the revenues of the platform, define Local Fair Policies that are compliant with local by-laws.
The LNs are responsible for becoming the catalysts of a vibrant ecosystem that can foster a positive sum game between the global dimensions (the guests) and the local dimension (the local community of all the stakeholders).

At the time of my involvement in this project, no LN was active yet.
How to get to a bottom-up organic activation of LNs was the problem to be addressed.

The users involved in the Local Nodes ecosystem.

Role and team

I worked in strict team collaboration with three civic designers from the network CivicWise and with one of the founders of FairBnB.coop.

We had to define a clear journey that could lead motivated people around the world from the discovery of the platform's value proposition all the way to becoming a Local Ambassador.
We also had to design the process and tools to catalyse the activation of Local Nodes.

A significant part of the job consisted of leading online workshops and brainstorming sessions with FairBnB.coop executives to clarify and give structure to their ideas by opening different perspectives.

Screenshots from the numerous online workshops. An overview of the collaborative design process.

Platform design

The core challenge of this project lay in designing for spontaneous emergence and self-organization.

This consideration led us to the following:

  1. The LNs activation process and toolkit have to be designed in a sufficiently defined way that could enable motivated people to use it and mobilize an ecosystem they are part of.
  2. At the same time, the toolkit should maintain the necessary openness to allow for bottom-up complexity to have space for expression, to let individual ideas, local practices, and collective expectations be matched, and to take part in the system.

The work started by understanding and mapping the current and potential ecosystem of stakeholders around FairBnB.coop platform.
We needed to understand a complex set of personas and to identify the emergent potential of the system.

We went all the way from listening to people inside and around the organization to, eventually, prototyping the LN Starter Kit, a set of informational and organizational tools for the FarBnB.coop community.

The toolkit included guidelines, communication channels, learning events, and formats for local meetings and workshops to be adopted from the ground up by Local Ambassadors to incept, manage and support rising Local Nodes.

Local Node activation journey map.

Key screens linked to the Local Node ecosystem.

FairBnB.coop community tools and Local Node Starter Kit contents.