Airbnb. It’s a global network of accommodation offered by locals in 181 countries. It’s got a brilliantly simple model: if you have a spare room, or if you’re going on vacation and leaving your home empty, you can let an Airbnb user rent out your space. Multifamily can learn a lot from Airbnb, which saw 800 percent growth in last year.
1. Your interface matters. What’s your interface? It’s what customers use to do business with you. Airbnb has a simple, user-friendly, colorful website and a slick application. Apps and websites that are actually easy to use put people in a good mood.
Apartment managers can apply this advice by ensuring your websites are as fast and intuitive as possible. Also, ensure your office “interface” (e.g., your customer service center, where current and prospective community members interact with you) is easy to use and pleasant to use, staff should be happy and friendly, and annoying procedures like filling out forms in triplicate should be avoided at all costs.
2. Value matters. When you Google “airbnb” their first value proposition is the price advantage Airbnb offers over a hotel. They even use the word “cheap,” once thought of as a dirty word to marketers but totally acceptable in our post-downturn word.
Multifamily can take this trend to heart and realize customers appreciate straightforwardness. Cut to the chase about price advantages your company or community offers over its competitors.
3. Media matters. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, analyzed Airbnb’s success and noted that the company had gotten “ a ton of media mentions,” which helped boost the company’s credibility with hosts and travelers alike. That’s because getting media mentions boosts your credibility. Build up your community’s presence in the media by sending out press releases about happenings at your multifamily community, such as a community picnic, a community service day, or even a member of your community who’s doing great things. A reminder: remember to link to the media attention you receive from your apartment website!
4. People matter. Airbnb issued a press release celebrating their one-millionth night booked. Interestingly, their press release highlighted not the places Airbnb was offering, but the people who were using it:
“Our users range from professors to architects, musicians to nurses, and work for such employers as Google and the United Nations. Today, even if you havenʼt yet used Airbnb, there is a good chance you know someone who has.”
Apply this advice to your own community by highlighting any trends you’ve seen in types of people who live in your community. Talking about professions is good; I remember the manager of one apartment community I lived in in Thailand telling me the building was full of international development workers; knowing this fact definitely made me feel more comfortable, since I was an international development worker myself.
Name-dropping places lots of people work is good, too; if you’re not near a Google or other company with red-hot cache, it’s ok –companies headquartered nearby and companies known to be big employers in your region work great too.
Thoughts? Tips? Experience with Airbnb? We’d love to hear about them here or on our Facebook page!