I’m a huge fan of AirBnB. Staying in other people’s homes is more fun, interesting, and comfortable than your average, overpriced hotel. Recently, I transitioned from guest to host when I listed my Boston apartment on AirBnB.
The entire AirBnB hosting experience has been humbling and showed me how much work goes into ensuring a pleasant stay. After hosting on AirBnB, I found myself thinking companies should start treating customers & prospects like guests in their own home. Below are 5 lessons I learned about marketing after hosting my apartment on AirBnB.
Do it for the 5-Star reviews
1 star is terrible and can ruin your chances of getting people to book with you. If someone had a 2-4 star experience staying at your place, chances are they are not going to post a review. If your guest’s experience didn’t “wow” them, they won’t write about you. The same is true with marketing. If you have good customer service, then issues will be resolved and nothing else will happen. With exceptional 5-star service, however, you will get people talking. Zappos’ exceptional customer service is so well known because their customer’s promote it.
Consider the cost of going the extra mile. Ask yourself, what’s the value of a positive review or a shoutout on social media? For AirBnB, it only cost me a few bucks to put chocolates on the bed and some fruit in a bowl, but those small touches can translate into great reviews, and great reviews mean more bookings at a higher price.
Source solutions early
There is a checklist of steps to make your place “AirBnB ready.” Floors mopped, bed made, set of extra house keys, clean towels, the list goes on. For marketers, you also need to have a checklist. Your email software should be good to go, beautiful email templates designed, landing pages on hand, and a webinar solution on standby.
For both listing on AirBnB and successful marketing you need to have a list of solutions available, understand their cost, and build a relationship with those vendors. Sourcing flexible and affordable solutions that know you, or your company, is essential. When things go wrong, you need vendors you can trust.
Respond Quickly, Really Quickly
Everything on the internet has gotten faster. If you click to download an eBook and it takes more than 30 seconds to download, the prospect is gone. Not responding quickly to someone looking for product pricing, or a demo of your software, can significantly reduce the chances of making a sale. If you don’t get back to a potential AirBnB guest in under an hour, they will have moved onto another place.
If you are not the first to respond, someone else will, and you, or your company, will be playing catch up, or worse, have lost the opportunity all together.
Understanding Your Guest
Here at Waterfall, we have implemented an inbound approach to marketing. I absolutely love the idea of thinking of customers as digital guests at our company’s home. When a potential customer is viewed as a prospect for a sale, they are a mere dollar sign walking around and your most important priority is pushing them through the sales funnel as quickly as possible to close the deal. Gah! What an unappealing thought. Pushing a human through a funnel.
If you treat a prospect as a guest, your goal is not to sell them, but to make them comfortable. A great AirBnB has extra snacks in the fridge, easy-to-find items, and nice smelling flowers on the table.These little added touches create an environment of mutual respect between the guest and host. If brands start thinking of their prospects as a guest, the sale will come easier, faster, and the bond between the client and the company will last longer.
Make it Easy on Yourself
AirBnB can be a lot of work, or not so much. It all depends on how you set it up. For me, I wanted less work. I got a key lockbox so I wouldn’t have to physically meet the person if I didn’t have time, started using Handy’s vacation rental cleaning service, created a one page sheet of key information like WiFi password and nearby restaurants, and made a few simple email templates of check-in and check-out procedures. I put in work on the front end so that I wouldn’t hesitate to list my place again.
Whether it’s blogging or email campaigns, conferences or webinars make it as easy on yourself as possible. That way when the next speaking engagement arrives, you are ready to go and all of your information is in order, panic and frustration-free.
Overall, AirBnB is about utilizing your resources better, making genuine connections with people, building trust in your brand, and being a small part of a larger community. These are lessons that everyone, especially marketers, should take to heart.