Airbnb is a success story in all aspects. Imagine, if you will, a small startup in 2008 without any major investors to a company that performs business in over 150 countries all over the world and an expected yearly profit of around $30 billion in 2020. Now consider that a key factor to the founding of Airbnb was that the two founders, while living in San Francisco, were broke and needed money and thought about renting out their air mattress to people who could not find hotels or motels within their budgets.
The success of Airbnb is well-documented, but nothing accompanies a successful business like an equally successful app. Everyone wants to use an application that mimics what the website does and that the app does it well. This is what Airbnb has done with their app; they’ve taken most of the functions from the website and ported it to the app, meaning that in 95% of the cases you won’t need to touch a computer to start hosting or booking a trip. It wasn’t always this way, for sure, but part of Airbnb’s success in the app market is due to updating their app very frequently and adding new features regularly.
Another key to Airbnb’s success is that they’re not afraid to use non-scalable ideas to drive their business and their app forwards. Like most companies out there, Airbnb is data driven, but they don’t let data or metrics boss them around. The Airbnb team often starts with a creative viewpoint when implementing a change, then they review how that change impacts the business and then repeats the process. They also make small bets on new features and then wait and see and measure if there’s a return. Wherever there is a return, they send more people in that direction which allows and encourages employees to take healthy and productive risks for the company that could lead to developing big new features. Changing something that appears to be utility-driven to something that appears more aspirational increased Airbnb’s engagement by 30%.
Airbnb continues to innovate and has created a marketplace that isn’t limited to just their website anymore; plenty of features have migrated from the website onto the mobile platform. Users can create wish lists of lodgings they’d like to see, places they’d like to go, that sort of thing. The user interface is also intuitive, responsive and provides people with what they want to see, use and benefit from which increases overall user retention and experience.
In essence, Airbnb and its app caters to a growing market where the chance and opportunity of seeing new places and experiencing new things is paired with reduced costs by booking a host’s spare room or their summer house or apartment. While it’s hard to put a value on user experience in the real world, both for the customer and the host, having an app that streamlines user experience and user expectations can be powerful tools for a company to grow.