Airbnb Ace Events

Andy Morris
Apr 9, 2018 · 7 min read

Finding space on Airbnb to connect events with venues.

Introduction

Our first group project, as briefed, was to “create a first-class means to increase the ability of event hosts and guests to find one another through the [Airbnb] mobile app.”

We found the initial brief to be a bit confusing and sought clarity from stakeholders before we were to move on. When considering the language of the project brief and that of common Airbnb lingo, “hosts” and “guests” mean one thing, whereas “event host” and “event guests” in the world of event planning and logistics, means another. After going over the brief with stakeholders, we set our eyes on creating a feature within the Airbnb platform that would connect highly rated spaces and event hosts with coveted event attendees in an exclusive feature called, “Black Key Events” — this would change halfway through.

Call A Spade A Spade

Our initial screener survey and user interviews were based on the assumption that our focus was on connecting event hosts with event attendees through the Airbnb app. Later, it would be brought to us to discover that this was the wrong path. We had to course-correct, and fast. But what about all of the research and data we conducted, not to mention a full mid-fi wireframe iteration? Well, the data wasn’t all a complete loss, we salvaged what we could, but we’d need to run more user interviews — people in the field of renting out space specifically for single-use, one time events.

Ah-ha! A light went on!

We need to connect the space owner whose backyard, ballroom or balcony roof deck is available to rent as a non-overnight vacation accommodation! Bingo! “Black Key Events” became “Airbnb Ace Events”- a branded, in-app feature that helps users to distinguish between travel accommodations and event spaces for rent — one that essentially combines the marketplace of Airbnb with it’s Plus and Experience features.

Full Deck

After deducing what we could and could not use from our initial user interviews and testing, we still needed more data and to conduct more research. So, we went into the neighborhood and sought out venues who might rent out or book their event spaces for entertainment and private parties. Luckily enough, we got what we needed to move forward — here is what we found…

We ended up interviewing a total of 8 interviewees. Out of the many questions and followup questions, these are the three that stood out and were perhaps most useful to our data and synthesis. The top responses were as follows…

Once conducting and gathering all data, including that from the first round of interviews, we began sifting through the large amount of information we had uncovered and tried to make sense of it all through synthesis.

By using learned data synthesizing methods such as, affinity mapping, dot voting, design studios and MoSCoW feature prioritization, we finally began to see patterns amongst our user base.

The three patterns that stood out the most were users interest in listing event spaces, booking event spaces and refined search methods and criteria for finding each. It became clear that listing and booking event spaces were indeed two different tasks for two separate sets of users — from here we were able to begin defining two primary personas from the data and use our third finding, refined search methods, as the connector between the two.

Additional user trends and insights allowed us to consider further criteria for users when searching a venue to rent or how a venue may seek to list their space.

From here, our two primary personas had taken shape: Aaron, the space host and Beth, the space seeking event planner.

Aaron is a 30yo freelancer who has an amazing loft in Brooklyn with a beautiful roof deck. However, because he lives alone, is single and constantly working, the roof deck is under-utilized. He sees Airbnb as an opportunity to list his roof deck space for special events like meet-ups, small cocktail parties and engagements. Not only will renting out his space make great use of it, it will put a little extra money in this freelancers pocket.
Beth is a social curator. She often books event spaces while traveling between Detroit and NYC — so being able to work remotely for this 27yo event planner is crucial to staying on schedule. Because her budget is small and she doesn’t have her own space to hold events like professional networking meet-ups, Beth relies on Airbnb to find and book the right space for all her upcoming gigs.

Again, revisiting and restating the problem…

Aaron and beth are both power users within the Airbnb spectrum. We call them “aces”.

Airbnb already has a platform for connecting like minds with like spaces. Lets use what Airbnb already does well to connect Aaron and Beth, but specifically for event rentals.

We call this, Airbnb Ace Events.

Now, with a solution to connecting Aaron, the space owner, with Beth, the space seeker, we start building out the first of three mobile app prototypes.

Iteration 1 started off simple…

… though users were a bit overwhelmed by starting their usability testing on a previously determined screen within the app, they wanted to begin their journey by first going to a profile page. Verbiage and search placement were also indicating a need for change, however, users overall liked the simplicity of the app itself.

Making necessary adjustments to our second iteration, users were uniformly interested in the search feature, however, they were still a bit confused by “Host Mode” and what it actually meant.

Seeing a trend in the ability to tailor an event in host mode or to seek out event spaces by refined search criteria was an important functionality to creating Airbnb Ace Events. Not only does the refined search in our hi-fidelity Iteration 3 help the user find event spaces, placing Ace Events at the forefront of the application as a highlighted, branded feature within the Airbnb app helps to differentiate it from other common Airbnb features.

With the added function of being able to manage her events from the app, Beth is able to keep all pertinent information, like venue contacts, contracts and address in one location.

Beth is also able to create an Ace Event and invite friends to her exclusive events directly from the application or by sharing her page through third party social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Because navigability is important to any user-flow, we’ve added continuous scrolling, next step buttons, and the Airbnb Ace Events logo for better, more intuitive navigation.

We’d like to see further user research, including, more usability testing on future iterations, market analysis to better understand the needs, assumptions and behaviors of users seeking to rent and/or list event space. Expanded user profiles in the existing Airbnb platform could benefit and highlight the spacial needs of their user-base and how the profile plays a role in creating a more robust platform for its users.

Despite the initial chaos and revamping of this project, we found that sometimes the data doesn’t always lead to an expected solution or a solution that works to help solve or alleviate a problem. However, when accommodating for and understanding the goals, tasks and principles of the user, digging deeper to find core issues, all while remembering your user persona, we were able to find that our final prototype was useful in further connecting those with event spaces to those who needed space for their events. In the end we made the connection. Party on!

Andy Morris

Written by

DJ and Graphic Designer turned UX/UI Designer/Researcher: www.andymorrisdesign.com