Airbnb takes the phrase 'living like a local' and makes it a reality, by giving people the chance to stay in city apartments, rural homes, and quirky accommodation while they explore a fab new place and, we can all agree, it has shot to fame in a jaw-dropping way!.
In fact, it’s now the world’s largest hotel group, even though it doesn’t own a single hotel. Insane, right?!
Instead, it has over 500,000 accommodation listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Even if you’re venturing to the middle of nowhere, there’s a high chance you can still stay in a local home (anyone for a remote adventure in Mongolia complete with reindeers?). The concept of locals renting out their houses to curious travellers is simple but effective, and Airbnb can teach us a lot if we hone in on their quick road to success.
Lessons We Can Learn From Airbnb
1. Keen Eye for Design
One of the most identifiable things about Airbnb has always been their clean, slick, modern style. This has always translated seamlessly across all their communication platforms, including, of course, their website! How do they keep eyeballs coming back, particularly at a time when consumer attention spans are rapidly going down the drain?
Well, for starters, the brand was founded by designers. Their secret is modern design and captivating imagery. In fact, strong visuals are absolutely key to their branding. We only have to look at the listings page of Airbnb alongside booking.com to see that it is much, much easier on the eye, and far less cluttered. And, with such a varied range of accommodation to choose from (there’s barns, sheds, attics, basements, mills, and even treehouses), the stunning pictures inspire traveller’s imagination and keep them scrolling for longer.
Take a look at some of our top website design tips here, if you fancy relooking at your own property’s website.
2. Compelling Content Strategy
Airbnb knows the value of content and is not afraid to use it in exciting, innovative, and engaging ways. From their blog to videos and social media, Airbnb know exactly how to generate a buzz around their content. In response to accusations of hosts discriminating against guests, they released the “We Accept” campaign, their “Experiences” campaign on social media and gave travellers new perspectives on the places they were visiting.
Sure, they’re playing with slightly bigger budgets when it comes to their content creation (slightly…) but you can start small with yours! Your guests will appreciate learning more about the area they’re staying in, where the best spots to go are, and even more about you and your property. There are so many ways of building out your content, try not to get overwhelmed – take a look at this as a start!
3. Community Building
Airbnb is a massive advocate of bringing people from all walks of life together, and they’ve worked hard to create a community around their brand. They rely on acquiring hosts through the hosting community and, ever since the start, have grown through word-of-mouth referrals. This has continued to be an important part of business for them, even as they’ve grown into a multi-million dollar brand.
Today, community remains at the heart of the Airbnb brand through community discussions, gamification, content marketing and their incredible user experience! This keeps travellers going back for more, even when other options might be cheaper, or more convenient.
4. Local is Key
The whole premise of Airbnb is encouraging travellers to see a place from a local’s perspective. In response to this, the brand focuses on the highlights of each destination and listing, creating an all-round “experience” for its users that goes beyond just providing them with a place to stay.
Despite being a global brand, Airbnb continues to push the local aspect of travelling. We can see this in action through its “Experiences” section that lets locals provide travellers with activities (like paddleboarding, cooking, and tours) at a small fee.
It sidelines big tour companies and instead gives locals the power to show visitors what their city is like.
As an independent hotel or property, you already have the benefit of authentically being ‘local’! Back to what we mentioned earlier about giving your guests useful content on the property, the area and the top surrounding spots, you’re enriching their experience much more than if you were just providing a room and a bed. This sort of stuff helps you to develop a relationship with them, and will make them more likely to come back. More on how to do this here!
5. The Booking Process is a Breeze
When it comes to booking, most travellers worry that they’re not finding the best price or making the best decision. This means that any hint of a tricky booking process will instantly turn them off. On top of this, 88% of travellers have no qualms about switching to another site if the one they’re booking through doesn’t meet their needs.
To tackle this head on, Airbnb makes their booking process as easy as possible. It’s simply a case of entering payment information and – voila – the accommodation is booked. No extra steps. No adding on extras. No hidden prices.
The first step towards a seamless booking experience for your guests is choosing the right booking engine! Find out how to do that, and everything you need in one, here.
6. Review-Based Marketing Model
91% of people regularly read reviews before they make a purchase and, with travel being a fairly large outlay of money, it makes sense that they form a huge part of the booking process. This is precisely why reviews are the bread and butter of Airbnb.
Both hosts and travellers are rated in a way that keeps standards high and builds trust between the brand and its customers. Travellers can easily see the reviews from past guests before they book a stay and hosts can vet potential guests before they commit to letting them stay in their home.
You’ll be well aware already how crucial reviews are to your property’s reputation. Traditionally it was Tripadvisor, now Google reviews are gaining serious speed! Read more and how you can optimise for them here.
Airbnb really knows who their audience is, and this is reflected in every single thing they do, from the design of their website to their social media marketing strategy. Their goal isn’t to convince luxury travellers to switch from five-star hotels to homestays (because these travellers aren’t their target audience).
Instead, they provide their actual audience with better experiences and content that’s geared specifically towards them. As a result, they have created a community of raving fans who essentially market the brand for them!
We Can Learn a Lot From Airbnb!
Airbnb is, without a doubt, one of the biggest successes of the past few years, and that success doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. They burst onto the scene at a time when consumers were itching for a change in the travel industry and, by providing consumers with a booking process that was exactly what they wanted, they’ve created a global community of travellers keen on getting a local experience.
It all starts with audience.
Airbnb are so sure of who they’re targeting that they have no problem building everything they do around those people. From their sleek website design to their “Experiences” section, they hold their customers top of mind the entire time. And, at the end of it all, they’ve incorporated an incredibly simple booking system that takes the worry away from booking, and instead, gets travellers excited about their next trip.
Your guests can have a seamless booking experience too! Like we said before, it all starts with your booking engine.
Fancy a look at our own booking engine? Learn more about it here!
Focused exclusively on the hotel sector, Net Affinity has collated the brightest, most commercially focused, experienced and passionate team of online marketers, account managers, designers and developers whose combined skill set ensures our clients online success and continued growth. We created this blog because we wanted to share our expertise with you, and offer you the knowledge that over 15 years experience in the hotel industry has given us.