They say Feedback is a Gift. That’s why I’m writing this open letter to you because I love(d) you.
I have loved you since the very beginning. I love that you create real connections for travelers at a time where travel is so commoditized. That you create real communities and experiences. That you make travelers feel they belong. I’ve been an avid user since 2012 when most people were still skeptical about the platform. Since then, I’ve booked over 50 trips and spent almost 100 nights in Airbnbs across the globe. You see, I’m very loyal to brands I love. I do not deviate from them even if it’s the logical thing to do (e.g. I almost religiously fly Cathay Pacific, even when they can only offer non-direct flights that are even more expensive than direct flight alternatives). And I like to think that I’m your model user. As both a guest and a host, I have raving 5-star reviews.
But here’s how you let me down:
I had a terrible experience with an unclear cancellation charge. There are so many steps along the way where you could have fixed and turned it into an opportunity for a delightful experience.
- UX Improvement: If you really want to build trust with users, you should make your cancellation policy more transparent. Throughout the booking process, you reassured me that the booking is fully refundable up to 24 hours before my trip. Then you turned around and said there are a bunch of fine prints under ToS on what doesn’t qualify for service fee refunds. Fix your UX to incorporate backend logic that alerts users when they don’t qualify for full refunds. Otherwise this seems intentionally misleading.
- Make Support Easier to Reach: If you truly want to help users, make it easier for them to contact support instead of burying your contact number. Fix your help center so it doesn’t feel like a circular maze. Improve your operations so wait time isn’t so long.
- Get Your Fact Straight: Your rep told me I am not getting the full refund because I already have 5 cancellations this calendar year. I do not.
- Be More Empathetic: It’s already a frustrating experience having to contact support. At least be more genuine in trying to help. Instead, when I asked to escalate my case, your rep basically told me ‘sure, but I know nothing will be done so you’re totally wasting your time’.
- Re-examine Your Product Features: A fixed threshold for cancellation does not make sense. It penalizes power users. Instead, the threshold should be proportional to the number of trips they book.
This is especially disappointing because I have been such a fan. Because you pride yourself at building relationships and creating memorable experiences. Because you’re Airbnb and not Comcast. I should have just moved on to Booking.com or Expedia but here I am writing you a letter, because our relationship means something to me. I hope it does to you too.