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Founded in 2008, Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service which enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel and hotel rooms. Shortly after moving to San Francisco in October 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia couldn’t afford the rent of their loft. It was then that they came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into bed and breakfast, thus, conceiving AirBnB.

Airbnb re-imagined the business model and changed the way it conducted marketing. It identified a fundamental living space problem and addressed it in the bud. If you have an apartment, you can become a host. If you have an internet connection, you can rent affordable lodging.

Travel like you Belong There
Travel like you Belong There

Hosts make extra income by renting rooms and travelers get access to affordable stay. Cheski and Gebbia proved great ideas can generate even from the comfort of your living room!

Let’s look at the aspects AirBnb nailed at!

For hosts,

  • People need to rent rooms to make extra money.
  • People can use the same property and assets they own and rent it out; sharing economy.
  • Host protection Insurance is covered by AirBnb.
  • It branded based on the idea of community.

Who wouldn’t like an extra source of income while sitting in the comfort of their home? AirBnB recognized the gap and bridged to fill it. While some states have renting concerns, most of the states allow leasing a part or entire property. Since traditional hotels can be exorbitant in price and access, AirBnb hosts affordable stays and bags the idea of providing an experience. New age travelers are more inclined towards an experience and story rather than massive, impersonal set of amenities.

For customers, AirBnB provides:

  • A unique experience
  • Economy of abundance variety and price
  • Help them build a personal relationship
  • Flexibility of stay and period

How energizing would it be if the moment you check in, your hosts mentions, “Since you’re new here, let me show you around”! Not only accommodation, AirBnb thrives on experience and personal relationships. With technology taking care of customer service and satisfaction, host reputation, customer verification, reviews and feedback, AirBnB seemed to have hit the bull’s eye.

Well, we hoped so!

So, when did things go south?

Developing a sustainable competitive advantage and establishing consumer trust are few of the major issues AirBnB has been battling against. True you get a first mover advantage, but how long can you bank upon the same? Without constant innovations, competitors will take no time to capture a significant portion of your market. What more can they do, you ask?

Well, for starters, why not integrate local service providers on the platform? Assuming a significant portion of my user base is new to the city/place of stay, how about I incorporate car rental/bike rental service? Sounds like work? Well, why not offer a “rent a camera” or “rent a laptop” service? Since we care about the experience, consider the user journey; from the moment she hits the search button to her feedback.

You were doing great, AirBnB. We love you and hope to see you rise again!

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