AirBnB has a UX problem
AirBnB has a great UI, well optimized room booking workflows and excellent customer support. But it has one crippling problem:
Hosts are supposed to select which days of the month their rooms are available. The problem is, many of them don't.
I've been using AirBnB for two years now, whenever I travel to a new city. The rooms that do get fully booked have all worked out really well. But the process of booking it has always been a huge hassle. After finding and reserving a room, 75% of the time the hosts cancel. I get messages such as:
These replies usually take 6-12hrs to arrive after making the reservation (they have a max 24hrs window). Which means it usually takes 2-3 days to get a room fully booked after a couple of cancelations.
Not only that but I put a lot of effort in finding a room in the right neighbourhood, with good reviews and for the right price. It's all much more time consuming process compared to booking hotels.
AirBnB also authorizes my credit card after every reservation which takes up to 24hrs to get released. When I was booking a trip to SF, I had $1000 tied up ($500 2x rooms) in authorizations that took three days to get released because I made both reservations before the weekend.
Solutions to this problem
Hosts have a calendar where they can select which dates they are available. AirBnB's main goal should be getting the user to USE this.
|1)||An indicator on each profile that shows the tendency to cancel reservations similar to how Okcupid communicates tendency to reply.|
|2)||Email reminders if the calendar is not being used + notifications after every cancellation reminding them to update calendar|
|3)||Better effort to educate hosts on how to use the calendars (videos, tutorials)|
|4)||Discounts to users who have multiple cancellations in a row|
|5)||Delete listings for hosts that rarely accept reservations|
AirBnB has so many benefits over hotels in terms of pricing and offering interesting locations. But it's still losing out in convenience. If AirBnB can get hosts to consistently set their availability, their service would dominate hotels in every respect.