I'm A Product Guy.

Good, bad, great, all products can be better.

If you’re like me, you slightly obsess over every product you come across and are either impressed and inspired by an amazing experience or deeply disappointed by a total miss.  I can’t keep this ecstasy or misery to myself so there’s usually some rant which follows.

Does AirBnB Need A Lobby Boy?

It’s no secret AirBnB wants to go from managing one part of travel, the room, to the entire experience, but can they deliver?

While AirBnB’s main growth driver is booking their more than 2 million worldwide listings; expanding into additional services will help them keep customers they grab - both Guests and Hosts.  

This year my wife and I became AirBnB Hosts, so far it’s been great; but we’re still newbies, learning as we go.  Case in point, this summer while in Sardinia we tried an advanced move: back-to-back bookings of our home in SF, having to coordinate:

  • check-out/key drop-off,
  • house cleaning, restocking,
  • welcome gifts,
  • check-in/key pickup

all from six thousand miles away, no sweat? yeah, no!  

With beginner's luck, a diving save by our neighbors, it all worked out.  But the experience brought to light opportunities for improvement around core Host Use Cases.

We're obviously stressed.

We're obviously stressed.

Let’s take a closer look at how adding basic hospitality services can help AirBnB go beyond the room and enhance their offering, creating an unfair competitive advantage over hotels.       

HELP THE HOSTS

At the heart of the AirBnB experience are Hosts; without them, there are no rooms, no guests, no stays.  Airbnb will never be as consistent as hotels, but that’s the point, right?  there’s charm in a unique experience, not the same monotonous room in every city; all powered by their robust Host community.  While this works, there’s still room for improvement.  I’m not suggesting turndown service, yet, but let’s start with a few thoughtful and much needed tools to help Hosts, well, be better hosts.   

  1. Check-in/Key Pickup

  2. Cleaning/Restocking

  3. Local Insights  

Check-in/Key Pickup

In the time between starting and posting this blog (it was a busy month) August Smart Locks announced integration with AirBnB, so now guests can receive an August Smart Lock code for dates of their stay.  If you don’t know, August adds a cover plate to your door’s deadbolt lock to control remote access and with AirBnB access the code guests receive is active for Check-in and expires upon Check-out.  This, is progress!  

AirBnB Message Center With Pillow and August Alerts

AirBnB Message Center With Pillow and August Alerts

Clean & Restock

As my wife and I soon discovered, when it comes to AirBnB related stress, Cleaning & Restocking is top of mind.  This includes cleaning, fluffing pillows, replacing fresh towels and linens, restocking shampoos, welcome gifts.  It’s great AirBnB gives an option to add in a cleaning fee (ours is $100) but it would be even better to completely take this off our hands.  

AirBnB should offer tight integration with vacation rental services like Pillow (www.pillowhomes.com) so I can schedule cleaning & restocking services through the AirBnB app and then receive reminders and notifications related to these services.

 

Locals Rule!

Beyond the room, there’s the setting, the sense of place.  

Locals Map To Guide Guests

Locals Map To Guide Guests

AirBnB offers guests to feel like a local; it’s touring without being a tourist.  

Along with our House Guidelines (my wife’s handy work) including our favorite local spots from restaurants to grocery stores, a list of “must” things to do in our neighborhood.    

The AirBnB app should allow Hosts to curate their Locals Map for guests to get acquainted with the area; local spots not in tourist maps or guidebooks.  The Locals Map should be situationally aware and two taps away for say an espresso macchiato emergency.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE

As AirBnB continues to disrupt the travel industry; hotel incumbents are not going down without a fight; AirBnB will have to answer by expanding further into the travel experience.  A great place to start, their core asset, Hosts and tools to empower them while being situationally aware and not getting in the way of the core experience.  Integration with August Locks is a great start, it’ll be interesting to see what’s next, as they try to go beyond the room.