Through the keyhole – insights from Airbnb

airbnb

18 Aug Through the keyhole – insights from Airbnb

The sharing economy is taking the world by storm and from this is emerging a unique sector of businesses, many of which own no assets. Sounds bizarre, but it’s true. Take for example the world’s largest taxi company Uber, which has no cars or the world’s most popular media owner Facebook, which creates no content.

Let’s take a look at another similar platform, accommodation provider Airbnb, its successes and challenges and how it compares to the Futurewave project. If you haven’t heard of it already, Airbnb is a community marketplace in which guests can rent out lodging from hosts – ultimately the platform connects people who have space to rent with people who are looking for a place to stay. With over 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, it now has more rooms than any hotel chain in the world and 40 million people have used the platform.

The concept of Airbnb derived from taking risks, challenging new experiences and not shying away from change .These drivers are mirrored in the Futurewave project which has taken a simple conversation from industry leaders and evolved it into an idea to revolutionise the energy market by connecting consumers, suppliers and funders.

By their nature, innovations encounter challenges and one of the key ones facing Airbnb has been building user trust. Customers want to ensure they are paying for a decent place to stay, while hosts want to ensure their guests are respectful of the accommodation. Other challenges have been technical or to do with regulatory issues such as ensuring rentals fall within local housing laws. Indeed, Futurewave may well face similar types of challenges as the project progresses but we will learn from those who have gone before us.

So what key insights can we discover from the Airbnb experience?

  1. Trust is a must: For Airbnb, a major barrier for people renting their homes is trust. The company has a number of factors to increase trust for users, but first-hand experience and word of mouth is key for them.
  2. Simplicity is key: Keeping the user experience simple is key to satisfaction and retention. Airbnb tries to keep it to a maximum of three clicks for online customers.
  3. Quality not quantity: When Airbnb launched, its success was partly down to focusing on making 100 people love it, rather than 1000 people like it. Face-to-face interaction with early users increased satisfaction and allowed the company to improve quickly.These insights are not unfamiliar among other collaborative consumption businesses, and will help guide the development of Futurewave.

Later this month we will be sharing insights from the world’s first peer-to-peer digital money lending platform, Zopa.com.

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