A solo trip to Costa Rica, backpacking across Cambodia, or a five-day vacation to attend the renowned Paris Fashion Week. Every time we think of travel, Airbnb is the first thing that comes to mind. It is an online marketplace and hospitality service, where people from around the world can lease or rent homes in over 65,000 cities and 191 countries. Only a few years ago, the company’s future did not look promising. Two unemployed roommates by the names of Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky started the company out of a dire need to pay their rent in San Francisco. In an effort to earn money, the two had the brilliant idea of converting their loft into a bed and breakfast by adding three air mattresses and ensuring breakfast for the guests. Luckily, their revolutionary idea took off. After successfully serving their first set of guests, they realized they could create a business plan out of it. So they collaborated with their former roommate Nathan Blecharczyk to make it into a full-fledged business. Here’s how Airbnb turned into a massive success over the years.
At the heart of Airbnb are its customers. The company highly prioritized improving the user experience. When it first started, the website was not as smooth as it is now. As a matter of fact, the former design looked like an amateur web designer did it. Seeing this as an obstacle, the founders made a turnaround and ensured a positive experience for its user. One of the first things they did is to improve their rental listings using professional photos. The management sourced out freelancers to provide them with attention-grabbing photographs. Since then, the business has gotten better.
On the other hand, the executives of Airbnb created a work environment camaraderie. According to the company, “Since we started, we make sure our new web designers and user experience employees receive encouragement to make significant changes from day one on the job.” In addition, the company cultivated a culture of creativity. The founders welcome creative employees into the company who can rethink designs, features, and execution so that the entire package accurately conveys the brand message.
However, Airbnb’s service is not new at all. When they entered the market, they had to compete with hotels and licensed bed-and-breakfast establishments. In order to set the company apart, the founders decided to differentiate its service with a fun, local appeal. “The Airbnb experience starts when customers first browse the website and continue through the booking process and the stay,” according to Smith Brain Trust of the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. Compared to traditional accommodations, the Airbnb options are endless, and the offered spaces are infused with personality since they belong to actual homeowners, not hotel conglomerates. It makes the customers feel more involved in the storyline every time they choose to book a stay. In other words, the customers feel like they are living like locals as well.
The start-up story of Airbnb serves as an inspiration for many to never give up despite the rejections. For more information about the company, visit their website.