The following article is the second of a two-part series of articles written on Airbnb. The first article outlines a brief background on the “unicorn startup” while this article will attempt to answer the question: how did Airbnb get so huge?
1. Airbnb was swift to convert masses of accommodation-needs into masses of customers.
The first example of this is 2008 in Denver, CO (USA). Airbed & Breakfast, as it was called then, coordinated it’s primary launch with the Summer Democratic Convention where the two then-democratic presidential candidates would bring in (a record-breaking) 84,000 attendees. Brian, Joe, and Nathan saw what would happen, with that many people coming to a small city, there would be heightened need for accommodation.
Similarly, after acquiring CrashPadder, the Airbnb team prepared to “host” the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The most notable of swift company changes was one that was much less foreseeable. This example highlights Airbnb’s dynamic nature and community thought. In the aftermath of 2012 Hurricane Sandy, many many people were left homeless in affected areas, including in New York City. Airbnb moved quickly to help. They urged hosts to offer up their rooms at discounted prices in order to displace at least a portion of the massive newly/temporarily homeless population in the metropolitan area.
Airbnb has since joined forces with San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR in efforts to plan for emergency situations.
2. They were flexible enough to change their roles, which provided new insight.
From the inside of a company, it is hard to look at the product from an unbiased perspective. When Airbnb wasn’t growing, the Airbnb team overhauled their point of view of the product they had created by experiencing it on their own, as a customer. During the early-middle months of 2010, the small Airbnb team went to NYC and stayed with Airbnb hosts all over the city. They saw that hosts with photos on their listings received 2x-3x the number of bookings, so towards the end of this period they developed a plan to offer professional photography sessions where hosts would get their places photographed for free.
3. They utilised social networks to benefit of their customers.
They swung with what was already swinging. In parallel with the growth of social networking in 2011, Airbnb decided to offer the option for users to link their social profiles to their Airbnb accounts. This added a deeper level of comfort for both parties in the transaction process and showed how cutting-edge their platform was.
It was the combination of these three key factors which enabled Airbnb to grow to the size it is today. For the ToolMates Hire startup team, Airbnb’s history has been a great lesson and source of inspiration for our founder.