AirBnB: How to create a community dedicated to customer experience

Interactive shots of weekend getaways and exotic global destinations, AirBnB’s website will make anyone want to pack a bag immediately. Based off of sharing-economy principles, AirBnB operates on the premise of strangers opening their homes at a reasonable price for a period of time; essentially matching individuals to provide for a need of the other. Reviewing the website, we can see homes as boats, tree houses, city apartments, and sprawling country ranches. Exploring a bit more, you can read about wonderful hosts, the spectacular experiences of previous guests, the details of the home’s surrounding area, as well as all the unique amenities the location has to offer.

It is obvious that members of the AirBnB community are dedicated to ensuring a positive customer experience, and in particular, an experience of “belonging.” But with the intense amount of growth and global reach, how does AirBnB ensure that its hosts and guests uphold the values of its mission?

As both a host and guest of AirBnB, I have witnessed firsthand the ways in which AirBnB ensures its community delivers on the desired level of customer experience. And to be honest, it’s pretty amazing. Consider how AirBnB’s practices could be applied within your organization’s employees and customers.

Focused recruiting. The organization’s model itself self-selects the type of travelers open to this kind of stay, fundamentally matching like-minded human beings. AirBnB attracts both hosts and guests who are open to meeting new people and having unique experiences. Through profile information, past reviews, and a safe messaging system, users can learn more about one another before booking a stay. AirBnB also develops a following through a robust referral program that benefits those who use AirBnB as guests and hosts.

Reflect on the type of employees within your firm and the customers you aim to attract to purchase your goods and services. It is important that your employees have a deep understanding of the desires of your clients, as well as familiarity with your product and service, in order to provide for them appropriately.

Comprehensive, transparent accountability. Last week, the New York Times released an article that theorized companies (e.g. Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB) that rate customers leads to inflated service reviews, because both parties have a vested interest in being scored higher. However, from what I have experienced, AirBnB applies multiple forms of transparent accountability, including metrics, reviews, as well as rewards and recognition, to ensure a positive (and realistic) experience for hosts and guests alike.

    • Metrics: Each host is measured on completed trips, commitment rate, response rate, and overall hosting experience. Each home is then evaluated on accuracy, communication, cleanliness, location, check-in, and value. The guests on the other hand are evaluated on cleanliness, communication, observance to house rules, and whether or not you would recommend the guest.  This data is displayed on each user’s profile and becomes accessible information to future hosts and guests.
    • Reviews: Each host and guest can leave a written review of one another. The reviews are completed blind, as an attempt to remove bias within the review. As a form of closed loop feedback, host and guests can make use of this information to make improvements for future stays.
    • Rewards & Recognition: Lastly, AirBnB rewards those hosts who perform exceptionally on reviews, specifically response rate, the number of five-star reviews, the number of hosting experiences, and commitment to the reservations. Those who achieve “Super Host” status obtain a badge displayed on their profile, a $100 travel coupon for the year, priority help desk support, as well as preliminary insight into product releases and events. This form of host certification can drive guests to your home as they feel even more comfortable with their booking

Contemplate how your organization can reward employees and customers alike for their loyalty to your organization. How can you ensure alignment between employee and customer incentives to ensure a win-win for both of them?

Seamless technology. AirBnB further promotes its innovative brand with an easy-to-use website and seamless mobile app. The organization makes it incredibly simple to facilitate regular interactions between hosts and guests, as well as between hosts and hosts with Host Groups. AirBnB built the infrastructure of an engaging website, with user-generated content. Each user can set communication preferences, including instantaneous texts or emails, to ensure quick, safe and reliable connections for booking management.

Examine how your organization makes it easy and difficult to work with your employees and customers. Are there multiple channels for interaction? Is information easy to obtain? How can individuals get their questions answered and issues resolved?

AirBnB has managed to build an entire global community committed to and motivated by ensuring a positive customer experience. By developing a sense of “belonging” through recruitment, accountability and technology, AirBnB has provided a new way for individuals to see the globe, for entrepreneurs to develop a business, as well as for human beings to connect. What can your company learn from AirBnB’s innovative approaches to enhance your own employees’ and customers’ experiences, including improving the value they each get out of their relationships with your organization?

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