In 2014, we took a deep dive into our data around negative booking experiences. And one clear bottleneck emerged: for a guest, the worst experience was getting no response to a booking request. In fact, they would try again less than a quarter of the time, far less than if the host had just said no. We were losing guests to a false impression that there was no liquidity in the market for them. For years, we’d offered an alternate, but largely unused, booking model called Instant Book. We were initially against promoting it because we wanted to give hosts flexibility but realized that the hosts who implemented Instant Book engaged with the product more. It was time to dust it off.
Wait too long to automate, though, and problems grow so enormous they’re harder to fix. And if you don’t have your basic processes well in hand when you take the next big plunge — a next-generation product, for example — the complexity could be defeating. In the early days of a marketplace, there’s always a struggle between growth plans and mundane maintenance. Keep an eye on your edge cases so you’ll know when it’s time to pull resources away from expansion to clean things up closer to home.