Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky took to twitter to crowdsource priorities for improving their product. He reported back on the top six priorities that came out of the project.
I think the platform was revolutionary but also doesn’t live up to its potential. There are way too many hosts with way too many rules that too often fail to deliver the product that they promise. And the platform doesn’t do enough to generate trust and enforce norms of behavior.
Hosts cancel on guests and guests basically just out of luck, there may not be other lodging options available and the most Airbnb will do is offer a credit. Sometimes. The last Airbnb I stayed in had a locked plastic box over the climate control so you couldn’t turn down the air conditioning and cost them electricity charges. And that was at $300 per night.
I also don’t like hauling out my trash at the end of a stay when I’m being charged a cleaning fee. Pricing is anything but transparent when various fees can add 50% onto the cost of a stay. And those fees often make Airbnb an uncompetitive option for short stays.
Airbnb has talked about a loyalty program for years, and there’s been talk of a co-brand credit card too. I like being able to check in early and check out late because of hotel elite status.
The top 6 issues customers have, which have the Airbnb CEO’s attention, are:
Got 4,000 suggestions. Here are the top 6:
1 – Crypto payments (top suggestion)
2 – Clear pricing displays
3 – Guest loyalty program
4 – Updated cleaning fees
5 – More long-term stays & discounts
6 – Better customer service
Already working on most, will look into others now! https://t.co/rxEM4BXZci
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) January 5, 2022
These all come down to ‘make Airbnb easier to do business with and through’. I think of customer service as a catch-all for ensuring that the product being offered on the platform is something consumers can have confidence in, and standing behind that when there are problems. This also recognizes that the fee structure is a problem that disincentivizes stays for many use cases.
And a loyalty program is a no-brainer, but it’s far easier to deliver things like rebates for spend on the platform and perhaps more elevated customer service to frequent guests than it is to ensure any sort of elevated experience during a stay. Hotel chains have a hard enough time ensuring elite benefits on properties where there are clear brand standards, expectations for delivering an elevated in-stay experience for frequent Airbnb guests should be modest at best.
There’s a big demand for what Airbnb does. And overall they bring down the cost of rooms (more supply) and bring more travelers which is a good thing in most cases. They’re also the market leader for a reason (compare to Marriott Homes & Villas on transparency). Even Marriott hotel owners want to rent out their rooms through Airbnb.
And of course if hotels can’t – or won’t – deliver on the things that differentiate their product from Airbnb, like elite benefits and daily housekeeping, they’ll find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.