If you're planning a vacation, then your most probably going to come across Airbnb on google or any other search engine. AirBedAndBreakfast also known as Airbnb is a new P2P (peer to peer) holiday rental website. It was founded in 2008 when the co-founders of the organization initially rented out an air mattress in their living room. Since than Airbnb has become a multi-billion-dollar company with approximately 800,000 listings in over 200 countries. Airbnb has extended the reach of its business by establishing a great digital presence. Having a good digital presence means that its easier for consumers to find you, an active and up-to-date social media account and professional website shows potential consumers what's special about Airbnb, which also gives them assurance to book with Airbnb (Airbnb, 2018). Airbnb is known for constantly having its social media updated regularly, with high definition pictures of new listings and captions to help potential guests find a vacation home without a hassle. According to an online survey by (Panzeri, 2018) about Airbnb's digital presence. He establishes that Airbnb's digital presence is of high quality due to the fact that when people search for Airbnb online, they usually find relevant information about the service, and that the Airbnb website always shows up on the first page of a search. Panzeri also states that Airbnb's social media accounts such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram were fairly easy to find and engaging. Lastly, he found that reviews on platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and foursquare were generally positive.
Evaluate Airbnb's digital communication strategy
Airbnb concentrates mainly on its two types of users, these are hosts and travellers. The aim of their digital communication strategy is to enable themselves to reach and encourage as many people to use their service and become hosts and or travellers (Hayat, 2017). Furthermore, Airbnb originally implemented a clever digital communication strategy.
- Google partnership
Airbnb collaborated with google and spent capital into google search ads to make their advertisements more appealing to potential hosts and travellers. As predicted, this increased their listings from 12,000 to 85,000. Airbnb also created a banner ad campaign that included real pictures of rooms and apartments, this campaign gave them the opportunity to reach an international audience which wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
- Craigslist integration
Before Airbnb was known all around the world, they needed a more efficient way to show listings of houses. At the time craigslist was a platform used for looking and renting short-term housing mainly in the united states. What Airbnb did was that they reverse engineered craigslist form to make both platforms compatible with each other. That way whenever someone lists their room or house on Airbnb, they would automatically get a notification that would allow them to add their listing onto craigslist as well. The integration with craigslist drove more traffic to the company (Wheeler, 2014). Until now Airbnb uses digital communication strategies to expand their customer base. Airbnb can't stress enough how important its hosts are, so they try to build strong relationships with them. Airbnb is also able to provide relevant information about certain locations through local hosts.
- Social media marketing
The Airbnb marketing team post photos and videos about listings, places to visit and more on Facebook. Usually even re posting pictures and videos taken by travellers on their vacations. As you can see in appendix 1, Airbnb's Facebook profile has over fifteen million likes and follows. On Instagram it only posts photos taken by travellers, Airbnb obtains these photos by hashtags such as # Airbnb. Travellers can even book a rental through those Instagram photos. Furthermore, on their YouTube channel they post videos of unusual locations in certain areas that aren't usually visited by tourists. They also post videos of travellers and their experience with Airbnb in various locations across the world. On their twitter account however they promote their blog/website with almost 700 thousand followers on their main account. On their blog/website they provide pictures taken by photographers of different cities and their cultures. They also provide information such as must visit locations and must dos on a daily basis. One of their most famous blogs is '30 best things to do in each city' (blog. Airbnb, 2018).
- Onboarding emails
Onboarding emails are a sequence of different emails including a welcome email designed for new users, these emails aim to help users set up an account, they also encourage new hosts and travellers to engage with the business. Airbnb sends three emails to new users, the first being a transactional email which prompted users to verify their email address (Cox, 2017). The second was a welcome email that had a link to the Airbnb website which also encouraged new users to look at some listings. Finally, is an email that is usually received one week after the initial subscription, this email encouraged the user to become a host and list their home in order to earn some extra cash (Cox, 2017). According to Cox, 2017 and research he has conducted, these emails have everything one would need, such as minimalistic copy, a clear objective, fresh colours and a clean design. Airbnb have designed these emails in a way where they are very simple and easy to understand, and new users are never unclear on whatever they are being called to do. However, Cox, 2017 also explains that the onboarding sequence of emails leave a lot to be desired, that when the account was still incomplete you still received the same emails. More so, the user did not receive any guidance or prompt to complete the profile. From the research conducted by cox, 2017 it seems that Airbnb is trying not to send as many emails to new users, this is because Airbnb is trying to renovate its website and instead of sending emails to its users, they could use online support such as pop up messages and or a help centre with a 24/7 chat. Remembering that, Airbnb does a great job of improving the objective of their messages to increase the probability that hosts, and travellers engage. When Airbnb minimized the amount of emails it sends to users, it allows them to just hope onto the website and the pop-up messages and help centre help with any enquires. Moreover, it was very interesting how Airbnb sends an email urging users to enlist their homes. For users that only use the Airbnb service to find vacation homes this email usually makes them reconsider enlisting their homes on the website to earn some more money whilst they travel. Which is a clever method to increase listings on their website by reminding travellers that they could benefit from both sides of the service that they provide.
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