Only a few years ago, Airbnb’s future didn’t appear to be promising. With a few smart business decisions and a renewed focus, however, Airbnb completely changed its direction. Discover how Airbnb achieved its goals, plus learn what steps the company took to maximize its success.
Focus on User Experience
When Airbnb first launched, its website’s appearance wasn’t nearly as sleek as the current design. In fact, as First Round Review explains, most of the company’s short-term apartment rental listings looked positively amateurish.
However, when Airbnb’s startup team acted on a hunch and began focusing on the user experience, the company started to experience a turnaround. As soon as Airbnb improved its rental listings with professional, attention-grabbing photographs, business became better. According to Fast Company’s Austin Carr, Airbnb executives now contract thousands of freelancers to produce the website’s professional photos.
Keep It Intimate
Image via Flickr by Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine
Although Airbnb is now a larger company than it was in 2009, the company has managed to support an intimate corporate environment. As First Round Review elaborates, new web designers and user experience employees receive encouragement to make significant changes from day one on the job.
In addition to incorporating data into major decisions, Airbnb also cultivates a culture of creativity. The company expects all employees to rethink designs, features, and execution so that the entire package accurately conveys the brand message.
Make It Fun
While hotels and licensed bed-and-breakfast establishments represent Airbnb’s primary competitors, the company manages to differentiate its product with its fun, local appeal. As the Smith Brain Trust of the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business explains, the Airbnb experience starts when customers first browse the website and continues through the booking process and the stay.
Unlike traditional accommodations, Airbnb lodging options infuse their spaces with personality, since the offerings belong to individuals, not hotel corporations. When customers first consider using Airbnb, they become involved in a storyline that they can choose to take part in by booking a stay. Once they arrive for the stay, they can see the story through to completion as they live like locals.
Encourage Large-Scale Adoption
Despite the company’s intimate focus, the product’s wide-ranging appeal can be linked to the company’s success. According to Burt Helm of Inc. magazine, the company supports more than 800,000 listings in many countries, enabling customers to look forward to local stays across the world.
Since not all markets have welcomed Airbnb’s relatively relaxed approach to zoning and rental requirements, the company depends strongly on its customers’ increasingly emphatic demands for its product. Without such an enthusiastic customer base of more than 20 million users, the company may not have been able to survive disagreements with cities. As Airbnb continues to encourage large-scale adoption of its product and business model around the world, the company looks forward to continual innovation in its future.
Airbnb’s failures and victories illustrate scores of lessons that students pursuing an online MBA can learn from in their studies. With innovation, persistence, and scalability, Airbnb has made extraordinary strides to become the successful startup it is today.
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