Airbnb's whirlwind rise to success isn't luck. They're smart guys and have unique ways to think about improving the guest experience.
One such way is to imagine what a 10-star guest check-in would look like. Imagining these experiences helps Airbnb to think about creating better experiences than the competition.
A lot of this article has been extracted from a recent podcast I listened to featuring Brian Chesky and Reid Hoffman. The reference to text can be found here: Scaling Airbnb with Brian Chesky
The paradigm with customers today is 5 stars. The problem with 5 stars is you have to be really bad to get 4 stars. Reaching 5 stars is just being nice enough — we wanted to build a product that you loved so much you would tell everyone. Travel has the potential to transform your whole life — I have met people on my own travels who changed my life.
At Airbnb, we strive to have our customers contact the company and demand a 6th star be added to our 5 star review because the experience was so good.
Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb
How's how Airbnb think about a 5 to 10-star experience:
What would a 10-star check-in experience look like?
5 star experience
You leave the airport, go to the Airbnb, your hosts are in the house, they let you in. This is 5 star. Worse than this is if your host is late (4 star) and the worst is if your host never showed up (1 star).
6 star experience
All of the above + your host picks you up at the airport.
7 star experience
All of the above + there is a limo waiting for you at the airport and inside the limo are your favorite chips and coconut water.
8 star experience
There is a giant parade when you arrive at the airport and you are honored for coming.
9 star experience
The moment you step off the plane there is 5,000 screaming fans holding signs for your arrive — we call this the Beatles check-in.
10 star experience
I could go all the way up to 30 stars — I won’t, but 10 stars would be when you arrive and a Tesla with your name on it is waiting for you and in the car, the driver is Elon Musk, and instead of your Airbnb Elon, takes you to outer space.
Why should you be thinking about this?
Obviously, Brian has exaggerated this to make a point but the principle is a 5-star is what people expect.
For people to love you, you need to do more than what they expect. Hence why Airbnb plays out these scenarios all of the time — once you go up to 10 stars, 6 stars doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.
This exercise can apply to anything you do in the company.
Airbnb even story-boarded their whole interviewing experience by thinking through how to make that a 7-star guest experience.
You can be better
Airbnb only has so much control in the guest experience - because they're just the point of sale. It's up to us, the managers & owners of properties to create a truly magical experience - or what Skift are now calling a "transformative experience".
It's how you can set yourself apart and create a memorable brand people keep wanting to come back to..