7 Ways to Make Airbnb Awesome

Last year I put my house on Airbnb and decided to travel the world with my wonderful fiancé. We visited over 16 countries and stayed everywhere from a Grandmother’s spare bedroom in New Zealand to a beach-hut in Thailand. Throughout that experience we spent a lot of time on Airbnb (we love Airbnb). We did, however, run into a couple of snags along the way, and since I was not spending a lot of time working on my tan, I thought I would coalesce our feedback into 7 quick fixes and some additional thoughts that could provide a much better experience.

“Street Cred”

1. Show actual addresses in the app

One of the most frustrating things upon arrival in a foreign country is when you pull up the app in an attempt to find your Airbnb host, only to discover that all you have for an address is a city, or [almost as useless] a pair of lat/long coordinates. Including an actual navigable address with the reservation will prevent this frustration for millions of guests.

2. Allow users to copy the actual address of the home to other applications

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to hail a Lyft and the minute I go to copy or click on the host address in my Airbnb app and it only allows me to copy the Lat/Long values, which are basically useless in both Lyft and Uber. Give people an address they can actually use with other humans.

Add the ability to copy an actual address for coordinating or hailing a ride

3. Add a scale to maps

Right now, there is almost no way to tell how far you are from anything within Airbnb maps. This is a really simple addition that would make a huge difference in allowing users to better plan their trips.

A map is not a map, without a scale.

4. Reference previous stays by cities, dates and photos instead of host names

Although Airbnb hosts tend to be awesome, they may not always be memorable — especially if you’ve been traveling to 16 different countries nonstop. Sometimes you don’t even get to meet them. That being said, it can be really difficult to remember their names when it comes time to write a review. Often times, it is easier to remember the city or the actual home as opposed to the host. Referencing the total stay instead of just the host makes it much easier to recall and complete the review, which makes it much more likely that a customer will actually complete it.

Reference other things besides the host for reviews

5. Allow users to complete multiple reviews seamlessly

Often times I stay at different Airbnb’s back-to-back. Over the course of one week I may have 3–5 different reviews to write, and this is when it is crucial for the review process to be more seamless. Right now, when you finish a review, the app drops you to the home screen where you’ll need to navigate back to find your next outstanding review. A real drag. I don’t have access to the Airbnb data, but my guess is that this flow meaningfully lowers the completion rate for users. I want the opportunity to complete all reviews in one sitting by simply incorporating a “write next review” button or dropping me back to a page with reviews still requiring attention. Again, the easier it is to complete a review, the more likely it is to get done.

Allow batch completion of reviews

6. Allow me to save search filters

With the exception of the cities, I basically search for the same criteria for every Airbnb stay — 2 adults (wifey and I), decent internet, private room, private bathroom, etc... Don’t make this hard for me. Allow me to save my frequent search filters so that I don’t have to enter the same information over and over again.

Save search filter settings

7. Allow users to sort by Rating

When it critical for me to get it right, I never stay at places that don’t have any reviews. It is a huge pain having to sort through pages and pages of listings with no reviews when I know that I am not going to select one of these. This is a tough feature to implement because you want to give all the hosts a shot at building their reviews. However, I think it is possible to implement some coarse filtering that will better match the needs for both customer and host.

Add a filter for ratings

Others that did not make the list:

  • Require at least one street-view photo of the home. Many times, the homes don’t have actual/visible addresses. A picture really helps me make sure I am not knocking on some stranger’s door.
  • Cache more data in the mobile apps. Often times, I don’t have great connectivity when arriving in a new country. Thus, I am typically relying on the Airbnb application to provide me everything I need to successfully get to my host, even if I don’t have internet.
  • Provide better data on internet quality at properties. Overseas, it is very common for a host to state they “have internet,” but their definition of “having internet” is a 56k connection that you need to buy a phone card in order to use. That’s not really what I meant by “internet.”
  • Pre-approved resolution amounts for common claims. This saves time for everyone during the resolution process. This will also help control cost both operationally and administratively.
  • Pre-screened contractors during resolution claims. We all know that contractor prices can come in all over the place. In order to constrain them and ensure a certain level of integrity, Airbnb could offer a collection of pre-approved contractors. I would even recommend exploring and integrating with service providers like TaskRabbit or Thumbtack. This would also make it easier to process resolutions.
  • Automatically coordinate entry to and exit from the home. This could be done by integrating with products like August smart locks.
  • Create an Airbnb loyalty product. Great way to help people engage more with the brand.
  • Create an Airbnb premium product. I would be willing to pay more for an Airbnb that was guaranteed to have quality sheets, internet and other niceties. Airbnb’s brand is strong enough now that putting a “seal of approval” on a property would send a strong message and improve satisfaction.
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