My family bought shares in Airbnb (ABNB -0.09%) because it's revolutionizing the travel market. Ordinary hotels and motels are going to have a tough time competing with Airbnb's business model. Airbnb has a supply of 4 million places where people can stay around the world. What hotel chain can compete with that?

And if that's not enough, Airbnb has literally zero construction costs involved with these places. Hotel chains have to take on massive debt in order to construct new buildings. Airbnb uses existing properties in a new, exciting way. If you combine millennials' love of travel with their love of recycling, Airbnb is the perfect website for them. We don't need to create new vacation spots; just use existing places! 

Person swings child around in an "airplane ride" on a beach at sunset.

image source: Getty Images.

I'm very excited about the future of this company. And the network effect will keep all future competitors at bay. As far as I'm concerned, the battle is over, and Airbnb has won all the mindshare. So my family bought in, expecting maybe a 10-bagger over the next decade.

Then I heard what the CEO, Brian Chesky, said on the Q3 conference call, and my mind was blown. Now I'm looking at Airbnb in a whole new way.

It's not a vacation, it's a lifestyle

One of the interesting stats at Airbnb is long-term stays. About 20% of guest visits last for a month or longer. For most people, a vacation is a week or two. So what's up with these long-term stays?

Here's what Chesky said that boggled my mind:

The world is undergoing a revolution in how we live and work. The pandemic has suddenly untethered tens of millions of people from the need to go into an office. Technologies like [Zoom Video Communications] make it possible to work from home. Airbnb makes it possible to work from any home. And this newfound flexibility is bringing about a revolution in how we travel because for the first time ever, millions of people can now travel anytime, anywhere for any length, and even live anywhere on Airbnb. 

Wow. I'd never actually considered how Airbnb is revolutionizing how many of us live. I thought it was a vacation stock. But he's talking about people living in Greece for a couple of months, and then moving to Jamaica for a few months. And then it's off to Norway for the ski season and then Japan in the spring. Live anywhere in the world, for as long as you want. Travel anywhere and stay anywhere. 

That's a revolution in optionality

While you're doing all this moving around, you can rent out your own home. (also on Airbnb, of course). And the money you make from your rental can defray the costs of your world travel. So that's new. And using Zoom to work from home -- that's new, too. I knew all these things, of course; I'd just never put it all together before.  

The option to do as much world traveling as you want to do is really interesting. People have done that before, usually when young and poor. But now you can travel the world when you're middle-aged and working for a living. You don't have to quit your job and see the world. You can keep your job and see the world.

People also travel a lot when they retire. I've heard of people retiring on cruise ships and just moving from one cruise to another. Cruises are fun, but I think it might get old after a while. And those rooms are tiny. After a while, I think I'd go ship-crazy.

I think the world travelers -- the young and the old -- are the most obvious example of groups of people who would use Airbnb a lot. But Airbnb (and Zoom) is expanding the pool of people who can be world travelers -- not just kids trying to see Europe on $10 a day. A lot more people can travel around the world now. You can do that with your kids, too, because this pandemic has introduced a lot of people to the idea of educating their kids at home.  

Take a year off, see the world, and introduce your kids to foreign places and cultures. Do this at any point in your life, for as long as you want. And go wherever you want. That's definitely new. I think this stock will surprise a lot of people with how big it might become.