Got a killer idea and want to code the next big industry darling in tech? Looking at what Airbnb's developers did to make their site and app so successful is a great way to get started. What do you think makes Airbnb so successful? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Focus on the best experience for your user
Airbnb has a simple and delightful user experience. For travelers and backpackers on a budget, Airbnb is as easy to use as craigslist, but far better designed and without the inconsistency of a Craigslist listing. For travelers with more cash to spend, Airbnb is still easier to use than most hotel sites. This ease of use for travelers and hosts of all stripes has disrupted the staid lodging industry and raked in lots of revenue for Airbnb.
Focus on the best experience for your users, and let that experience inform your decisions on what features to add, while keeping in mind that too many features can easily distract.
2. Do regular updates to enrich your user’s experience
Regular updates might seem obvious to developers, because it’s a key factor in a great experience. Even after its scrappy startup beginnings, Airbnb has maintained the typical startup best practice of using agile development (Google does this as well), pushing out their product as fast and as often as they can. Instead of waiting for a feature set to be finished before updating, Airbnb updates their app as soon as new features are implemented, even if the feature is behind the scenes.
3. Simplify the Payments Process
Payments can be one of the riskier parts of the sharing economy, but Airbnb made the process simple for travelers and hosts. Visitors enter their credit card number to book a stay and hosts are paid automatically after a successful stay. This removes the inconvenience of giving change for cash transactions and allows for a seamless experience that doesn’t even require a face to face transaction – perfect for travelers on the move. It’s a perfect outcome of meeting the business goals of the product while delivering user satisfaction in a simple, accessible and delightful to use interface.
4. Create add-ons for customers that improve their experience and increase your revenue.
Airbnb developers have done an excellent job of weaving in add-on options that add value for their hosts and customers without going overboard and creating cluttered complex checkout process that decrease conversions. Add-ons for hosts include free professional photographs of their listing and a click-to-post-on-craigslist option. Guests can click to add “experiences” like a nearby wine tour. When you’re developing a checkout process, think beyond the final transaction and consider what will improve your customer’s experience without detouring from your conversion funnel.
5. Develop a seamless omnichannel experience across web and mobile.
Airbnb’s marketplace can be accessed via their site, their iOs and Android apps, and on the Apple Watch. Registration and account creation is free and users can save their credentials once and then automatically sign in to both the app and site. No matter what channel customers are using to access Airbnb, the UX is the same, from filtering lodging options to messaging hosts to checking out.
Want more tips on creating a business like Airbnb? Merchant aggregation, like the Airbnb model, is powering a whole new category of commerce. A payments facilitator (PayFac) is a business that facilitates payments between merchants selling goods or services and the end user. This enables the end-user to easily pay online and the merchant (or property owner in the case of Airbnb) to get paid quickly. The sharing economy is a new generation of business, and so far it's booming. Want to get in on the action? Check out Becoming a Payment Facilitator (PayFac)