Data Pulse #23
When a few programmers and bloggers bought some air-beds , built a website and offered an air-bed with a coffee on their floor during a particularly busy conference season in San Francisco, they didn’t think they’d be creating a dis intermediation business to rival Marriott or Intercontinental Hotels.
Airbnb is a lodging rental platform with headquarters in San Francisco, California.
airbnb has grown staggeringly quickly over the past half-dozen years. The mind-boggling numbers show its incredible popularity; 1.5million listings in 33,000 cities in 191 countries around the world have attracted 65million guests – and counting.
Last June the company was priced at $25.5billion (above hotel giant Marriott’s $20.90bn), and ranked the third most valuable start-up business in the world, behind transportation network company Uber ($51billion), and Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker ($46bn).
airbnb has used data to deliver against the brand purpose, tell the brand story and build the customer experience . “Experience the world like a local”
airbnb describes itself as a ‘community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts, connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.’ A super brand that is community led.
The hosts are business partners, and airbnb is led by what the business partners say, continually getting their opinion and gauging reaction to business challenges and opportunities. It quickly builds a sense of openness, trust and meaningful interacton to form a strong community.
Every year, some 5,000 hosts from more than 100 countries are invited to the company’s airbnb Open (the 2015 edition was held in Paris) and encouraged to talk about the nature of their work. It is a great opportunity to both connect with the hosts and understand how airbnb can help serve them better. It is also a good way to feel part of that broader global community and the local area.
airbnb ran an innovative campaign to engage not only hosts but visitors in the airbnb community. The One Less Stranger campaign – where 100,000 hosts woke up on New Year’s Day, 2015, to an email from airbnb’s founder Brian Chesky saying he had paid $10 into their bank account – was an instance when “full editorial control” was taken away from Airbnb. Brian wrote that we would like the hosts to do something to help someone else, and to meet someone new with that money, It was a $1million marketing campaign where we gave full editorial control to the hosts. Some people just pocketed the money, but the idea here is that you can allow people who are your biggest advocates to be your spokespersons, and do your marketing for you, on social media and word of mouth.
It all builds up to the goal that your brand is driven by community rather than people in a marketing department.
‘It’s far better to have 100 people love you than 100,000 people sort of like you.’
airbnb also use data to make a ever growing core of people love them . The platform has disrupted the traditional hotels industry by eliminating the middle man and connecting travellers directly with people who have space to offer. airbnb collects detailed data relating to how customers are using the platform and attributes much of its success to an ability to analyse and understand how to improve the service.
airbnb employs extensive A/B testing to score multiple configurations or designs of its website and apps. Different users will also be exposed to different ranking and recommendation algorithms – the variation they experience is then linked to their next actions – viewing patterns, bookings and ultimately reviews of their stay.
airbnb uses natural language processing to decipher users’ true feelings about their stay, finding this to be more accurate than simple star rankings (which, they hypothesise, are overinflated due to the personal contact between guest and host).
Must admit i was a little nervous using airbnb for the first time ,. Found a little room in deepest Shoreditch, better than the local Premier Inn and cheaper… but now i’m a convert