Note: This guest post was written by Abhishek Talreja from Enterprise Monkey.
The founders of Airbnb started off with a simple idea to rent their apartment to earn a passive income. What they did not know back then was that they had sown the seed to a billion-dollar business idea. But while Airbnb was a unique idea, executing it and making it a success was tough.
There are lots of great best practices that any mobile team can learn from the success story of the Airbnb and its present-day mobile application.
Here are five key takeaways for startup owners and mobile app developers.
Your App Should Solve a Real Problem
According to Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, your app idea must not just be unique, it should solve a real problem. Airbnb helps travel enthusiasts find a comfortable accommodation anywhere across the world, at a price that’s considerably less than the only alternative — hotels. At the same time, it helps those who have additional space to earn a passive income by renting it out.
Marketplace models such as this have become common today, but back in 2007, this model was highly unexplored. To bring this learning to your app, you need to have an innovative idea that helps people in their business or as consumers.
Your App Should Put User Needs First
Airbnb has exemplified how you need to understand your users and update your product according to their requirements. The company realized early on that receiving payments was crucial for those who are giving out their space on rent, so they added the advance payments feature.
The initial response from the product was abysmal, and this led Chesky and Gebbia, the founders, to analyse the why the listed properties were not getting the desired number of bookings. They realized that the property listings lacked professional and attractive photos.
They started visiting each of their listed partners helped them by clicking quality photos for their listings. Later on, they tied up with freelance photographers to help the property owners on their platform to improve visibility and engagement on their listings.
Some of the other important features that Airbnb introduced subsequently included were instant booking, insurance for the hosts, and 24/7 customer support.
Your App Should Be Disruptive
With faster pace of technological change, you can’t just provide a me-too product with a few additional features and expect good results. The idea and the technology both should be disruptive. Initially, a disruptive idea will help you get funded, and over time it will help fetch incremental business.
Airbnb used a disruptive technology by creating a marketplace at a time when it was rare. It created ripples in the hotel industry by providing a service that was different, endearing, and reasonably priced. However, there were concerns about the safety of the service from its users.
Many users wanted to know about the credibility of the property hosts on the platform. The company integrated its platform with social media channels through a feature they called Social Connections. This feature helped guests to find recommendations of hosts among their friends and then opt for the best one.
When developing a product, you need to keep an eye on disruptive technologies and ideas. This helps you make smarter decisions and stay way ahead of potential competition.
Your App Should Have an Exceptional UX
As a business owner, one of your prime concerns is the UX of your mobile app. Airbnb does very well to engage its app users. It personalizes the experience by showing you suggestions based on your previous searches. The map integration helps you see your listings as you move around the map. You can also the see the number of users who are seeking to book the same property as you are. It adds to the trust factor of the users while also creating a sense of urgency to book.
The interface of the app has got warm and friendly pictures to build a connect with the audience and make them feel comfortable about their choice. You can select the price range while choosing a property to book and easily put your choices in your wishlist. Airbnb understands its target group and gives them a simplified UX to quickly make a booking.
For an app UX that delights its users, you must understand their persona and make the user journey story-driven and convenient.
Your App Should Have Innovative Integrations
In its initial days, the product integrated with Craigslist to get more traffic to its platform. With this feature, a property listed on Airbnb found a place on Craigslist and thus got tons of traffic.
Airbnb uses innovative referral programs and new-user discounts to build loyalty for its product. Their focus is on providing more and incremental value to their customers. If you can build a product that adds value and then provide your users with an incentive to spread the word, you can create a win-win situation for your business as well as your users.
Replicate the Success on Your Own
Airbnb is one company that teaches you to be persistent and to believe in your product. There is no application that can stay smart forever.
To stay ahead of the game, you need to keep innovating your product. There will be ups and downs, and rejections along the way. You may face criticism from investors, as well as customers.
But when you focus on the user experience, and add value to your clients, you can build an app that makes a lasting impact.