5 Things Indian Startups can learn from Airbnb

It was during my final exams that I got to know of the vacancy at Airbnb through a consultancy. I was fortunate to work with Airbnb just after completing my Graduation in Business in India. I joined Airbnb in the mid of 2016 with a lot of unanswered questions right from handling pressure to completing targets. The profile given to me was of an In-market host acquisition specialist but at Airbnb, things were different the work was fun in the literal sense. My job was to acquire properties for Airbnb, get the properties on board and educate the host about the platform. I was literally taken aback by the way they’d put so much of importance to onboarding hosts who might or might not end up using the service in the long go. It’s of utmost importance to Airbnb that the hosts understand in all completeness the experience they would have working with Airbnb which is admirable. Without much ado, let me take you through what’s special about Airbnb’s work culture and ethic that makes it special.

Work is fun
 At Airbnb, the work is indeed fun. For those who love socializing Airbnb is the place. We at Airbnb help the host understand the experience that he/she would get after hosting their property to the guest. So here I am not aggressively trying to sell a product to the customer but more of a conversation between two individuals and some with families too. That’s when we create the bond between the host and Airbnb.

Its fun!

While I’m on the contract basis working for Airbnb I could admit that we never had impossible targets, at some point you could even call it easy targets. This work routine at Airbnb indeed made my work life a comfortable and most importantly a balanced one. Airbnb makes work appear fun and interesting keeping the employees away from getting drained. Introduce balanced work life to your employees.

Marginal fee
Technically the existence of every company is to make profit and profits are earned when you sell products or services to the end user. At Airbnb, it’s all about convincing the host to list his/her property on Airbnb. For instance, the conventional way to onboard a Host would be selling one’s product or service and getting paid for the same. But here at Airbnb you can list your property for free and a commission would be charged on confirmed booking and service fee is charged from the guest. Now here the host has a sense of satisfaction that he/she is paying for confirmed booking. Rather than asking the host to pay the money and we will bring you, guest. This concept can be tried by most companies irrespective of the product or service. I guess this works with e-commerce sites or anything related to listing.

Help your customers win
Airbnb offers free professional photography (select properties) of the property to be posted on the platform for eligible hosts. The photos taken under appropriate lighting and angles bring understanding to the guest about their stay. Even today, not all platforms of similar behavior focus on the photography as they continue with cluttered photos. Unlike these, Airbnb focuses on offering quality pictorial content.

Before professional photography
After professional photography

Care and Concern towards Customers
 Airbnb is one of those very few or the only company that offers insurance protection to the host 1 million dollars (6 crores) being the limit. And the best part being that you don’t have to take the pain of paying the premiums. One query that always rises from the hosts is that what would be the steps taken if their property gets damaged. And the answer is the host protection. While interacting with hosts they ask me what happens if the guest damages my house. Well here is the answer host protection. Each property listed on Airbnb is insured offering the host with an assurance of safety. Well if you look more closely you will find that Airbnb has taken efforts to answer all the queries of hosts and guests through their product. If each product that’s introduced in the market gives the assurance to the customer, he/she would buy/use the product.

Building a Community

I was quite fascinated by the idea called host meetup. On yearly and quarterly basis Airbnb invites all their hosts and creates a reunion atmosphere. The meetup is an opportunity for the hosts to share their experiences, queries and even followed by discussions. I observed that hosts are excited to meet new hosts and this brings a thought of belongingness to the company.

Airbnb is a community built on trust. If every company could incorporate this community focused events at least yearly this would build an everlasting relationship between the customers and company. This might probably work more effectively with B2B.

And hey I missed to mention; I even got to host the meetup.

At Airbnb, I’ve learned that success is achieved only by a good product. Quality product along with consistent follow up from customers and understanding the customer needs leads to a successful product. Along with the bigger elements, equal importance should also be given to the smaller elements such as photography with regards to Airbnb. A company with genuine willingness to help their customer will make a mark compared to rest.