Airbnb’s major revision, 4 million novelty houses are here, this is called travel! |Interview with Airbnb China Design Team Leader

At the southern foot of the Italian Alps, the natural scenery is uncanny, reflected on the huge mirror glass surrounded by 360 degrees – the magnificent Dolomites, thousands of acres of apple tree farms in the distance, and the clouds and clouds are boundless.

The well-known design studio Peter Pichler built this invisible mirror house. The host Sabina has lived here for more than 30 years. She shared this beautiful place with more people on Airbnb.

▲The name of the building is Mirror House, which is surrounded by nature and blends in with nature. The glass on the side wall gradually melts into the mirrored wall in the arc transition. The mirrored building is coated with UV coating to prevent birds from hitting the wall

This is also one of the favorite homestays of Wang Ying (Sunny), the head of Airbnb's China design team. She was very moved when she saw a comment barrage sent by a user, which read:

For the first time Alps saw what he was like.

This house brings life to the surrounding environment, and the wonderful meaning it brings to people and the environment has surpassed the building itself. Mirror House also perfectly fits her best criteria for a unique home: unique, unified, all in one.

"Unique" means that the house has a strong personality and recognition. It is a complete individual and cannot be easily copied. You have never seen it anywhere else. You can remember it at a glance, as if the house has its own soul. Same.

"Unification" means that it will have a very distinct theme, a harmonious and unified style, and can convey the concept and spirit behind it through its own image, rather than random splicing of popular elements.

"Integration" means that the house can be naturally integrated with the surrounding environment. It is the finishing touch in the landscape itself, rather than standing abruptly in one place.

"This is my little faith in architecture," Wang Ying said.

▲ Caption: On November 8, Airbnb announced 100 creative proposals from around the world that were successfully selected into the $10 million "OMG! Odd House Fund" program, and they will be launched on Airbnb in the summer of 2023. The picture shows the domineering giant bone house on Boulder Beach, California, USA. Click to see a larger picture.

Throughout the entire interview with Ai Faner, she spoke in an orderly and fast-paced way, and she insisted on the value and significance of design. The enthusiasm and optimism in her tone continued to infect me.

Mirror House is just one of the 4 million unique listings around the world recently announced by Airbnb. You may have seen all kinds of interesting and strange houses under their "OMG Wonderful" feature category before, this time directly upgrade to more than 60 Featured categories.

Tree houses, boat houses, stone houses, castles, windmill huts, cave homestays, arctic scenery, ecological earth houses, farmhouses, container houses, shepherd's huts… Wang Ying excitedly described the novel and interesting categories and houses, as if they were about to go away Row.

As the world's largest homestay platform, Airbnb has no plans to leave Chinese users after suspending its domestic travel business in China. Now Airbnb China is fully focusing on the outbound travel business, focusing on novel and interesting unique listings, and continuous new actions, paving the way in advance for our upcoming first outbound travel in the post-epidemic era.
Wang Ying and the team behind her are ready.

Airbnb has grown from the bed & breakfast, a homestay, to its establishment in 2007, and has had more than 6 million active listings. Among them, there are more than 4 million "unique listings" as defined by them. This ratio makes me Very unexpected.

In Wang Ying's view, this "uniqueness" is not intentional, but natural.

Compared with the hotel chains copied on a large scale, Airbnb has always been more warm and humane in everyone's impression.

This difference comes from the fact that the homestay itself is the home of most people. "When everyone builds their own home, they will inject a lot of understanding of life, love for home, and the accumulation of their own aesthetics. Therefore, they have their own It’s a unique idea, and there are various houses built around the world.”

When asked about the screening criteria for unique listings and the birth of more than 60 categories, Wang Ying told us, "Because these houses are all non-standard, it is actually difficult to define a non-standard thing." They chose a more universal way to Introducing these houses:

First of all, we will retain the strong architectural features of the house itself, then look at the regional scenery and local activities in its location, and finally look at what life experience it can bring to people – so that everyone can know when they see the name, living in this place What the house can bring them.

▲Note: Under more than 60 categories, there are location keywords such as "camping, seaside, beach", as well as names of exotic architectural features such as "Italian dome house", "Greek Cycladic homestay" and "Italian Trullo stone house".

The freshness and fun of the unique house itself is brought about by the rigid conditions, and what really makes people remember is often the stories that happened in the house.

Airbnb’s long-standing design thinking has rebuilt the relationship between residents and landlords—they are not just the relationship between renting and living, but their respective lives intersect here, creating a life experience exclusive to this place.

For example, a very caring landlord will be like an old friend in a foreign country; the neighborhood experience brought by the local house and the new friends you meet through the surrounding activities will continue to add emotionally to the good feeling of a trip.

▲ The picture comes from the travel writer Apple sister Chenyu

If you see that the environment of this house is beautiful enough, the people you meet in the house will share more stories and cultures with you. Once this spiritual connection is established, it will be formed. Deeper memories make you more attached to this place.

"It's the people behind the house that really give the soul," Wang Ying said. They can also see in the comment area that people will be touched by such a house. Many landlords and tenants will keep in touch after traveling. I will send blessings to the other party on the app. When the epidemic first started, some tenants would ask the landlord if the situation is okay.

From this unique listing, it can also be found that under the seemingly fleeting or short-lived novel experience, Airbnb is still continuing this sense of belonging that has been built for a long time.

▲ Note: In 2014, Airbnb changed its brand slogan from "Travel like a human" to "Belong anywhere" in order to convey the sense of belonging they want to bring. The picture is from Chenyu, the sister of Apple, a travel writer.

Landlords around the world share their homes on Airbnb, and the more people book and browse, Airbnb uses algorithms to discover and recommend them, making them more and more popular. Over time, landlords will make their homes better, and more creative people will also participate in creating the space of their dreams.

In Wang Ying's view, novel and unique houses, coupled with invisible spiritual values, make people more willing to share and spread word of mouth on social media or in their own circles, and this house will become more and more famous.

With mutual promotion, Airbnb has more and more unique novelty houses.

When building novelty houses becomes a trend, it is not an easy thing to catch fire.

Talking about how the landlords of unique houses turn innovative ideas into real estate listings, and how to let more people into their houses – Wang Ying looks at this construction process from an open perspective.

The house most viewed by Chinese users on Airbnb is the Giant Bone House in California, USA. It took 25 years to build successfully, and it can be seen that the architect behind it has put in bold ideas and lasting ingenuity.

In her eyes, the Giant Bone House is an example of "extreme construction": the designer insisted on his original idea from the very beginning, and with strong willpower, it took so many years to truly land a house that is amazing in the world.

But we don't want everyone to build a masterpiece as soon as they come up… In fact, as long as they can realize their wishes with heart and hands, one day it will be discovered by others.

From a design point of view, Wang Ying believes that to build a popular and unique housing source, "realizability" is the first, first have a good idea, and at the same time it can be solidly implemented, the second step is to consider "realization" Live."

"The house can't be purely unconventional, it must be built with functionality in mind, and people need to live well in this space." The most popular potato house on Airbnb is that it really looks like a giant potato, so that At first glance, people may think that the inside is all hard and smooth cement, but in fact the inside is very contrasting and cute, with pink and white tones and complete facilities, and you will feel warm and comfortable when you walk in.

Finally, there is "playability".

They found that after the launch of more than 60 unique listing categories, the most attractive categories for Chinese users are "what you see is what you get", such as "charming swimming pool", "beautiful landscape", "sea view homestay" and "country homestay". "Linhu B&B" and so on.

At first glance, these classifications do not even have anything to do with architecture, but you can find out at a glance what activities you can do and what kind of scenery you can see through this house.

This is also an idea for landlords who want to build their own buildings: your house is best built in a playable place, or the inside of the house can provide some space for people to enjoy and explore activities.

Of course, there are exceptions – she mentioned that there is a house that impressed her, which is a century-old oak tree house in California.

It was built by a father and son on a tree by themselves. Even in a not-so-famous location, many people are moved and famous by the story.

▲ The picture comes from the travel writer Apple sister Chenyu

On the whole, as long as you put your heart into it and put your love for life and your own ideas into it, I believe that the smell of wine will not be afraid of the alley, and this house will shine one day.

Wang Ying hopes that when everyone is looking for unique housing sources, it is not necessary to try with a novelty mentality, "Although we call these houses unique housing sources, it does not mean that they must be so strange and unconventional. What we want to emphasize is that It's different."

Especially under the epidemic situation, when you can't go out to play at will, everyone's desire for the unknown world has become stronger, "Maybe everyone just doesn't want the same life day after day, but just wants to experience something new. "

▲ Caption: The starry sky flashlight house in the Scottish Highlands, England, click to see the big picture

Some people say that the essence of design is to solve problems. Wang Ying believes that the problem they solved this time is "unique and deep":

What we want to do is to allow everyone to go to places they have never been to, live in houses they have never lived in, and experience different possibilities in life within a very limited number of trips or limited number of stays.

It is their original intention to update the product this time to make outbound travel "different".

Before the outbound tourism was fully opened, they turned the viewing page into a window through apps and small programs, so that everyone can not only feast their eyes in advance, but also increase the accessibility while browsing online, just like a cloud Traveling around the world-a lot of loving "small thoughts" have been injected into it.

Wang Ying is not only the head of the design team, but also the person in charge of the product that led this revision. When you enter the homepage of the new Airbnb platform, you will see all kinds of interesting strange houses in the world flowing down the infinite waterfall. Ying revealed to Ai Faner that Airbnb could only do city-level searches before, but now everyone can see the whole world at a glance.

It's as if you have a virtual globe in your hand, and you can go to see where you turn.

They provide Chinese users with a new product experience. Not only can they quickly see the exclusive and unique listing directory, but when you search for a certain place and become interested in a certain destination, Airbnb will also recommend different places around the world based on this. the odd house.

More than 60 classified icons are concise and clear, and it can be seen that they have been carefully designed. Wang Ying said that the Chinese name of each icon has actually undergone a lot of research and research by the team. Compared with the cold tool words on other big platforms, these names are quite interesting and intimate.

In addition, the houses on the Airbnb platform in other parts of the world may only have one icon display, but in China, a new photo tour has been added, so that people can directly see the real appearance of the house imagined in their hearts. Here, a new mode is introduced: up and down Immersive exploration by swiping, swiping left and right.

Does it feel familiar? That's right, it's just like brushing short videos.

"This method of watching short videos was actually invented by the Chinese, and it is also a method that users around the world are very addicted to," Wang Ying said. They combined this method of viewing content with the traditional scene of looking for housing. Looking at a house in full screen, you can feel like you are in the house. The whole process is like a cloud tour.

When people can't go out, they want to use this method to give everyone a kind of spiritual and emotional comfort even if they look at the house on their mobile phones.

This experience design for Chinese users can also be said to be Airbnb’s new “localization practice”.

A design detail worth mentioning is that when the user double-clicks to bookmark a house, a small heart will pop up. If it is in the dark night mode, the screen will turn into color, and suddenly there is a feeling of being lit.

In Wang Ying's opinion, this small colorful interaction in the dark night mode is infused with emotional design, "The house is lit up because of your likes, and it also lights up your desire to travel. There is a kind of mutual respect behind it." bright meaning".

In order to allow people to search more flexibly, the Airbnb product team also added a function of “superimposing different characteristic categories”. After all, when they want this and that, adults often want them all.

Surprise discovery + immersive exploration is the whole path to create a new product experience. And those icons, names, and all kinds of loving details in the interaction make Airbnb become Airbnb.

Design is a very important brand gene of Airbnb.

Two of the three co-founders of Airbnb are designers, so Airbnb has always attached great importance to design culture.

In many public occasions, they will say Design Driven-the meaning behind it is not that the design team will lead the company, but more emphasis is on a way of design thinking to lead everyone to think and solve problems.
In such an environment, Airbnb's design team has also been given more missions and responsibilities. They have more space to be creative, and they are also burdened with higher requirements and expectations.

▲Note: Airbnb China Design Team

Wang Ying told us that Airbnb's design team will emphasize the concept of "overall view" when recruiting people, which they call "two-way market" – as the world's largest homestay platform, Airbnb connects so many landlords and tenants , connecting people and platforms, people and local experience, itself is a very complex network structure.

Therefore, when they are designing, they are not just designing an app or a website, but designing a very diverse experience.

Everyone in the design team needs to be able to think independently, not only to do the visual part of aesthetics and packaging in everyone's impression, but to go deep into the preliminary research and offline prediction, from a person's willingness to travel to how to do it after the trip Sharing memories with people has to be considered holistically, like a complete mesh map.

In Wang Ying's eyes, they are people-oriented full-link designers.

The success of each of our designs may not necessarily be reflected in cool new interactions or new visual expressions, but also in solving the most complex problems in the simplest way, which will make our designers very proud point.

A product starts with good looks, falls into talent, and is loyal to character. This is the order in which users gradually like a product, but Airbnb’s process of building products is reversed.

We must first define the user value of the product, think about who it solves and what problems it solves, and then give it a self-consistent underlying logic, such as the embodiment of its talent, and finally give it a creative aesthetic packaging that is pleasing to the eye and loves at first sight.

Wang Ying and the Chinese design team have perfected the Chinese localized product design from 0 to 1. There are not only experience designers, but also employees responsible for visuals, motion effects, content strategies, and user research. , is already a large user experience team.

▲ Caption: Airbnb China Design Team

For this outbound travel product, they also started from user research, and they kept thinking about how to make more innovations for Chinese users before they actually went abroad. Wang Ying said that their product strategy has always been carried out in two stages.

The first is the "grass planting" stage, which is the beginning of the whole path. “We hope that when everyone discovers the house and immerses in the exploration, the “grass planting” will be maximized. When people see so many interesting houses on Airbnb, although they can’t go out, they can say that their bodies have not moved and their hearts have been far away.”

The second is to deepen the path to realize "grass planting". "We will continue to do enough infrastructure construction. When the epidemic is about to end or when overseas is opened up, everyone can quickly find the house they want, and then start traveling smoothly. This is the direction we will focus on in the future."

It is not surprising that Airbnb focuses on outbound travel in the Chinese market. Their listings and experiences all over the world have always been their core advantages.

The future test is still there, and the result is still unpredictable, but this time focusing on unique housing resources, it can be said that they are continuing to amplify this advantage.

Finally, I asked Wang Ying what she would design if she wanted to build her own unique house. She said:

I had some small dreams very early on, to build my own building. I hope it is a house that can turn around and see different scenery in 360 degrees. At night, I can chase the moon and see different starry sky. It would be even better if it can have long legs. I often dream that I live in a house with legs, traveling between different cities, a bit like "Travel of Strange House", where I can live wherever it goes.

I probably feel the source of a large part of Wang Ying's enthusiasm and optimism at Airbnb.

To think of tourism in a simple way is to play, and to think in a deeper way is to understand the world more deeply, and at the same time live your life differently and live a limited life differently.

From this perspective, she is standing with Airbnb in the most likely place for this to happen.

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