Embracing the Airbnb experience

This post was originally published on www.webintravel.com on 20th October 2015

airbnbIt was interesting for me listening to Julian Persaud of Airbnb simply for the number of times he used the word ‘experience’. He had a lot to say, of course, about the company and his last role with Google. But that word kept cropping up – he even used the phrase ‘touching the Airbnb experience’ when describing what the rest of us might call ‘using the app’.

One could be cynical of course and imagine that this phrase is drummed in to him as part of some sophisticated internal PR drive. But that doesn’t really matter because calling a person’s interaction with Airbnb – with any of their touch points –is that person’s brand experience. And a company that really understands that (even if it’s ingrained as part of internal brainwashing as some cynics might have it) is a company that is riding the proverbial wave of contemporary consumer-centric thinking.

Julian talked about the experience as it pertains to the actual stay of course, citing his 1,000 nights of hotel stays when at Google as a bit of a blur.

But crucially what Julian and Airbnb understand is that ‘experience’ is not just about the stay. It’s not just about the holiday or the flight. I would go as far as to stay that, in some senses, those obvious aspects of the experience – the stay or the flight – are almost trivial. What Airbnb does is focus on every touch point – on every interaction someone might have with the brand over and above the actual thing itself.

And I can pay personal testament to this. A year or so ago I applied for a job with Airbnb (I didn’t land it). And even the job application process with them is a delightful experience and that’s something I can say even though the ‘experience’ was ultimate unsuccessful. The email I received from them when making my application was simply a ‘nice’ email. Most of you reading this I’m sure will have had job applications with other companies where your application wasn’t even acknowledged.

So I’m prepared to look past any cynicism. Julian works for a company that understands the importance of experience when it comes to job candidates. It’s no surprise that they totally get it when it comes to ‘touching the Airbnb experience’ on a mobile device. You know: using the app.

The #Expensify people wrote to me!

You know how when, sometimes, you uninstall software of unsubscribe from an emailing list you get an automated response asking you why?

Well I had an email the other day from the Expensify team asking why I hadn’t used their application. (Bascially it’s the same as with a lot of apps – looks interesting then play once then forget).

Although, in this case I don’t actually have expenses to deal with so the app hasn’t been relevant for me.

So I repsonded to the link on the email checking one of the response options to give my reason but also adding (in the free-form text field)  that I don’t have an expenses situation to deal with at the moment.

Then they actually replied!

Hello,

Thanks for the feedback.  If you do find yourself working with expense reports in the future please keep us in mind.  We would love the chance to work with you again in the future.

Thanks,
Kirk Barrett

www.expensify.com

 

I now know what I’ll do when I do need something to manage my expenses.

The Basics will always be the same.

15254-Strong-Silhouetted-Man-Holding-Heavy-And-Bending-Barbell-Weights-Above-His-Head-In-A-Fitness-Gym-Poster-Art-Print
In three weeks time I will be attending WIT and participating on two panels.  And today I enjoyed a lovely lunch with Siew Hoon talking about the event, all the arrangements and how tweeters and bloggers can participate in the true spirit of engaged and connected consumers.  We talked a little about Foursquare and other trends and technologies that dominate the space, some of which those involved in promoting their travel products and services are still trying to get to grips with and understand how they can best use these for their promotional, marketing and engagement-making ends.  All good stuff and I look forward to some enthusiastic discussions and exchanging of ideas and views.

 After my lovely lunch and the engaging company I made my way over to the gym for an afternoon workout.  I go to the Fitness First in the UOB Centre in Raffles Place.  It’s not close to home and not even close to my last permanent workplace but the staff are delightful and being greeted by smiles is always a great start to my session.

 After my workout the manager spoke with me.  “Hi, Carl”, he said, “how are you doing? And great to see you back after your trip – New York wasn’t it?” 

“Actually, it was California and Nevada, but thanks for asking, and how do you know my name?” I replied.

“I always make a point of looking at the names of those who visit the gym” he said, “and I like to find out a bit about them.”

Hi name is Ernest and he is man who, for me, stands out because of the simple steps he took to interact with me – one of his customers.  He took a few seconds to find out my name and a quick bit of information about me so that he could address me directly and engage briefly in some relevant and timely conversation.

 There will be lots of conversation at WIT about search optimization, the implications of location-based social networks like Foursquare and what to do with those fifty thousand fans you have on Facebook.  But whilst those at WIT would do well do understand the technologies and their implications here’s a little reminder from one of your potential customers. Some simple and basic things like knowing a little about your customer and making them feel just that little bit important by engaging in some relevant and timely dialogue goes a long way towards building affinity and getting me to love you a little bit more. 

 The online space provides more and more possibilities for brands to interact with their customers but whilst potentially being swallowed up with technology driven innovation we shouldn’t forget those little emotional triggers that, when all is said and done, can often be the reason why I might choose, for example, one hotel booking site over another.  Or even one gym over another. 

 

More good service and more timely response and thanks


Coffeebeantealeaf
 


Me to Coffee Bean:

I am sat in Coffee Bean at the moment at Republic Plaza.  I was served by a lovely smiling manager – Agnes Yam …. she's running around doing stuff, talking with customers and generally making me feel great to be a customer of yours.  She's awesome!!  Just wanted to let you know … Carl Griffith


Response

Dear Mr. Griffith,

Thank You for your patronage and positive feedback on our Outlet Manager, Ms. Agnes Yap.

We do appreciate you taking the time to communicate to us and rest assured that this will be noted in her personal file for future reference.

We look forward to your continued patronage

C.c. Ms. Veron Lee (District Manager)
        Ms. Jenny Tan (Human Resource Manager)

Regards

Richard Howe
Director of Operations 

Dear Mr. Carl, We greatly appreciate your effort in taking precious time ……

Dear Mr. Carl,

 

We greatly appreciate your effort in taking precious time to bestow our team member, Mr Peter, with your heartfelt commendation.  It is certainly a much coveted accolade since it is generally rare for people to convey gratitude after a good service experience.

 

The company places immense importance in the delivery of excellence at every service encounter. Your kind compliments will also be displayed on company's notice board as a motivation to our employees

 

You may also nominate Mr Peter Ho in the upcoming Singapore Experience Awards 2010 by visiting the following website http://www.singaporeexperience.com/nominate?target=cs

These awards is to recognize the best organizations and individuals in the tourism industry.

 

Once again, thank you for the compliment. We look forward to delighting you always at 313@somerset!

 

 Thank you and best regards

Excellent Concierge at 313@somerset

313somerset 

Copy of Email sent to 313@somerset

I wanted to write and tell you that last week I was sat in a cafe at 313 looking at the Taxi Stand and was taken by the continual smiling and superb courtesy shown by Mr Peter Ho, the Concierge Executive. I feel that he showed a large amount of really good service to those taking taxis and I imagined what a lovely end to the day it would be to have Mr Ho help me into a cab.  I was almost tempted to get a cab myself!

Singapore needs many more Mr Ho s.