Airbnb Feature Addition— Retrospective

UXDI Project 3: New Feature to Existing Service + Hi-Fi Prototyping

Objective: Implement a feature to book event spaces within Airbnb service
Duration: 2 weeks
Team Project of 3

Premise

Airbnb is “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” It connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Built around the concept of sharing economy, Airbnb is a platform through which guests who need housing are connected with hosts who have available space to accommodate them.

Problem:

Did you know that Airbnb already has the options to find event spaces? Our user interviews found that even the frequent Airbnb users were not aware of this option. The main cause for this problem, besides the fact that Airbnb does not market itself for event spaces, is that finding event spaces are a filtering option for the general listings. Also currently, the only way for guests to check if an accommodation permits event bookings is to read through the individual listing descriptions and house rules.

Opportunity:

The premise of this project revolves around the fact that, although it is great for finding housing options, Airbnb currently lacks a proper method of finding event space options. How can we create an easier way to connect hosts who offer event spaces and guests who want to find them?

Further more, studying the market for event space booking revealed a greater opportunity for Airbnb. Our competitor analysis showed that a market exists for connecting guests and hosts around professional event spaces. Implementing an event space option for Airbnb could expand its sharing economy scope and capitalize on its popularity as a trusted brand.

Research Method: User Interviews

We started off by using a screener survey to identify interviewees of three potential qualifications:

  • people who were familiar with sharing economy
  • people who booked spaces for events, for professional or personal reasons (guests)
  • people who had experience with hosting their spaces as any form of accommodation (hosts)

We then interviewed 9 people who fell within at least one of these qualifications to further inquire about their experiences. Our questions focused on trying to understand the context and behaviors of their needs, pleasures, and pain points when using sharing economy services. From these interviews, we synthesized the main take-aways through affinity diagramming.

Insights from User Interviews:

  • Venues for events exist but are too expensive for most users. Budget is the primary concern for guests who try to book any venue in a sharing economy
  • Location is another major concern in determining where people book events (proximity to public transportation and available parking spaces)
  • Most common method people use for booking event spaces is using google and calling them to inquire
  • Users are unaware of existing listing services for booking event spaces
  • There’s a need! — we confirmed the market opportunity for more professional event spaces

Personas:

From the insights attained from the user interviews, we established 4 personas in total: 2 personas for the guest who book event spaces and 2 personas for the hosts who provide event spaces.

We referenced these users’ needs to identify potential features we could implement.


Feature Analysis

With our personas in mind, the step in our process was to identify specific features to include in the proposed design.

We analyzed the usability heuristics and user flows of:

  • 2 direct competitors: Eventup and Peerspace
  • 2 comparable booking services: Kayak and VRBO

Usability Heuristics:

Comparing the heuristics of the competitive and comparable companies to those of Airbnb, our studies revealed that Airbnb generally surpasses the others in usability practices. As a take-away, we decided to maintain the integrity of Airbnb’s existing design as much as possible, with minimal changes to the user interface.

Competitive and Comparable User Flows:

We diagrammed the flows of the other companies to dissect the processes of how the guests booked and how the hosts created listings.

From these studies, we highlighted specific features that we wanted to adapt into our proposal:

Prioritizing the Features:

From all the features determined by the needs of the personas and the additional features inspired by the competitive and comparable companies, we utilized 2x2 Matrix and MoSCoW method to organize the features by priority.

Finally, we took the prioritized list of features and removed features Airbnb was already doing well. Our focus for the proposed design were the features that were left.

Features to Implement:

  • Differentiate events vs. housing contents
  • Explore event inspiration
  • Filter by: Venue types, Guest capacity, Catering, Atmosphere
  • Request phone number and walkthrough prior to booking
  • Book by hours
  • Allow hosts to add guest photos to photo gallery

Design Iterations


Final Design Proposal

Design for Guests’ Flows:

  • Find a venue
  • Send a request to book it

Design for Hosts’ Flows:

  • Respond to an inquiry about a listing
  • Add a photo uploaded by a guest to the listing gallery

Snapshots of Mobile App:

See the Prototype in Action: Here

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