COUNTRY: United States | MAIN TREND:Always Available | WEBSITE: www.airbnb.com
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Find a low-cost place to stay with local people, or make money by renting my space to a visitor.
Airbnb is a website with an easy interface to search, filter, pay, and communicate with potential hosts that enables anyone to rent out a bed, a single room, or an entire apartment. Booking and payment logistics is managed in exchange for a renter’s fee of 6% to 12% depending on booking value. The service unlocks a perishable product – beds – by enabling anyone to become a “virtual innkeeper” for free – Airbnb only charges a fee when a rental Is made. It also offers a rating system that tracks feedback in real-time. Mobile application finds beds near you and enables renters to handle all aspects of renting anywhere in the world. Members can sign up with their Facebook profile and see which of their friends are also using the service.
WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE? Traditional hotels, vacation rentals, and sublets which are often more expensive or require credit checks and paperwork. Craigslist and newspaper ads had no mechanism for securely managing payments or rating / reviewing potential guests.
WHO NEEDS IT? “Bed renters” with extra short-term sleeping space, but no practical methods to find and secure renters. “Bed seekers” who are looking for sleeping space that is cheap and/or unique all over the world.
IMPACT: Airbnb has raised over $100 million dollars. Airbnb’s popularity has exploded recently, growing more than 800% in 2011, and booking over 2 million night stays in other people’s homes since 2008. Co-founder Brian Chesky claims that more people stay each nigh in New York City via Airbnb than in New York’s largest hotels.
COMPANY “AHA”: Beds are a perishable product whose value disappears every night, but reputation is critical for customers to trust it.
- Integration: Enables individuals to rent their beds to others without travel agents, but with the safety of the social curation and peer review
- Access to Information: Airbnb combines the range of activities required to list, rent, collect money, and leave feedback in an easy to use web-based or mobile app
- Convenience: Drives supply of beds by providing all the services bed renters need including payment processing, reservation management, and even a free photoshoot with a small booking fee of 3%
- Safety and Security: For people to rent beds to each other, reputation and transparency are everything – the service is as invested as renters / tenants in creating a safe, enjoyable experience
- Market Makers:Free to list, free to browse – the service matches beds to heads!
- Right Size:Started as a way to safely and easily rent out beds, but has grown to be a one-stop shop for beds, bedrooms and entire houses depending on what customers have and are looking for – including a $5,000 per night vacation house in Colorado!
Airbnb is a simple application built on top of multiple platforms, ranging from mobile networks and social graphs to mapping and payment processing systems, focused on a clear problem with no existing, acceptable solutions. Facebook’s social graph brings a layer of transparency while Google provides map/calendar functions. Airbnb also partnered with PayPal, and a range of national banks to handle payments.