The treehouse in front of us is surrounded by layers of greenery. The sunlight falls on the floor like gold. The low bed is next to the window. This is a typical Airbnb B&B. It has also been "moved" into Airbnb. in the Beijing office.
Each of the meeting rooms here has innovative ideas. The employees themselves have decorated "replicas" of popular properties around the world. Visitors can appreciate the style of the United States, France, Morocco and other places, as if they are in multiple parallel universes, and the world is close at hand. So close.
▲ The “treehouse” in Airbnb’s office.
Since three years ago, Airbnb has released major product updates and upgrades every six months. Airbnb China, which focuses on outbound travel, has also maintained the same pace as the world.
On November 9, on the occasion of the second product update this year, Aifaner conducted an exclusive interview with Kong Zhiqiu, head of Airbnb's China business. Amid changes with the times, they have an unchanging belief: to connect Chinese travelers with the world.
2 million popular homes, answers to more than 500 million trips
The moment you open the door and enter an Airbnb B&B, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky calls it a "moment of truth." This is an idiom that refers to the important moment when someone knows whether something has succeeded as expected after someone has put in their efforts.
For many people, traveling abroad is indeed something that requires "efforts". After finally going out, they naturally hope to eat well, live well, and experience the local culture better.
However, the homestay industry in which Airbnb operates is non-standardized. More than 7 million active listings around the world are Airbnb's biggest unique advantage, but it also brings challenges.
▲Brian Chesky is also an Airbnb host.
Users may not know enough about a property before moving in, resulting in discrepancies in results.
Kong Zhiqiu encountered such a situation. He stayed in a cabin in an orchard in Thailand last year. The rest of the experience was great, but there was a waterway above the house, and the sound of planes flying over was very noisy. "This is not the landlord's fault, nor my fault. But as a platform, I should give this property information to the tenants."
The "Guest Recommendation" function launched by Airbnb this time is to allow users to have a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the property before booking. Everything is best as imagined.
▲"Tenant Recommended" listing – American Desert House.
Specifically, "Tenant Recommendations" screened out 2 million of the most popular "word-of-mouth properties" based on ratings, reviews and other data from more than 500 million trips.
The average rating of these listings exceeds 4.9 stars. The probability of problems such as cancellation by the landlord and poor service is as low as 1% on average. More than one-third of the properties have an average nightly price of less than US$100. This is due to factors such as location, cleanliness, and cost-effectiveness. The "Hexagonal Warrior" stands out.
"Tenant Recommendations" are dynamically updated every day, and it is easy to find these properties. Just pay attention to the "Tenant Recommendations" badge on the search results page and property details page, or add the filter "Tenant Recommendations" when searching.
▲"Tenant Recommendation" sign.
Since "tenant recommendations" are endorsed by other users' reviews, the gold content of the reviews is even higher. In this product update, the "Ratings and Reviews Page" has also been launched with a new version.
Since its inception, Airbnb users around the world have left more than 371 million accommodation reviews. Reviews are voluntary, and there is a "two-way blind review" between the landlord and the tenant. Before leaving a review for each other, you cannot see each other's content, avoiding the situation of "you say something bad about me, and I say something bad about you". .
Kong Zhiqiu believes that this information is a great asset to the platform. "The information provided by users is all useful information."
How to allow users to find the content they are most interested in and care about is what Airbnb hopes to improve. The comments that users need are not “everyone agrees” but “real”, so what the platform can do is “more transparent”.
▲ New rating and review page.
In the current new version of the page, users can sort reviews based on review date or rating, understand the distribution of 1 to 5 stars from the chart, see the number of positive and negative reviews at a glance, and see where they come from from other users' reviews. , how many days you have stayed, whether you are traveling with your family or pets, and find the most useful reference for you.
▲ New rating and review page.
Broadly speaking, this update is actually to "make it easier for users to find the properties they want" and to match the properties with the needs of tenants.
Kong Zhiqiu discovered that “users don’t just like the house with the highest score.” Consumers are becoming smarter and have more and more diverse needs. “Not only do they want to live in it, but they also want to live well and enjoy it, and share it with their friends. , it’s best to be cheap and have personality.”
Therefore, when users' concepts are "upgrading consumption", then the platform must also rush towards "both want and want", and even get in front of users. What Airbnb hopes is that when users move in for the first time, they can choose a satisfactory house and feel the benefits and charm that are different from hotels.
What is global is also local, travel should be more down-to-earth
Airbnb is a global product, and the Airbnb China team stands at the intersection of "global" and "local."
When a certain feature is updated, the Chinese team may encounter several different situations. First, the needs of global users and Chinese users are solved at the same time; second, domestic leading functions are exported to the world; third, some functions are only needed by Chinese users.
"Tenant recommendation" is the first one. As for the second one, the domestic app experience is leading in many aspects, so sometimes it is exported to the world in reverse, such as the mobile phone dynamic password login function. Currently, the Chinese version of the app only has the "Comment with Pictures" function, and the Airbnb China team is actively promoting it with the headquarters.
▲Comment with pictures.
Speaking of the third type, the previous Airbnb WeChat mini program is an example, and there has been a similar update recently – a selection of "Chinese-friendly" listings.
▲ Travel blogger Xingren and Bangkok’s Chinese landlord Sister Ting.
Before joining Airbnb, Kong Zhiqiu worked at Facebook's San Francisco headquarters. He speaks English very well, but he still hopes to meet Chinese-speaking hosts. Some time ago, he traveled to Jeju Island and chatted with a driver who could speak Chinese. The driver introduced many local features in half an hour. This is a tacit understanding that cannot be replaced by his native language.
Based on similar insights, Airbnb launched the "Chinese-friendly" feature. "Chinese-friendly" not only means that the host or customer service can speak Chinese, but also means that they have a better understanding of Chinese culture and the needs of Chinese users.
The launch of the "Chinese-friendly" feature also has another purpose: to serve the business focus of Airbnb's China team – "attracting new customers."
It is not difficult to imagine that when you go abroad and stay in a B&B for the first time, you may encounter many problems, such as how to open the door, whether you can leave early, whether you can leave your luggage… Kong Zhiqiu believes that in many cases, guests are not unclear, but are worried about themselves. can not say it clearly. If you find a "Chinese-friendly" landlord, novice outbound travelers can reduce their anxiety.
▲ Kong Zhiqiu, head of Airbnb’s China business.
What Airbnb hopes to leverage is a vast market. At present, outbound tourism is still gradually transitioning from recovery to growth. As Kong Zhiqiu said, "China has a population of 1.4 billion, and only more than 100 million people have passports. Many people do not have passports, and those with passports have not been there yet. many countries".
Airbnb’s main target for attracting new customers is people who have passports and need to travel abroad, but have not yet traveled abroad or have not used Airbnb. Among them, they are particularly concerned about the young people of Generation Z.
In addition to lowering the threshold for “novices” through product innovation, Airbnb also continues to gain insights into their needs, including housing bookings, popular activities and destinations, travel preferences of various age groups, and even the values of a certain group.
▲Picture from: Travel writer@AppleSisterChenyu
For this year's winter travel, Airbnb has proposed three main ways to play: "Winter birds fly south, so you can lie down in the waves"; "Immerse yourself in nature and play with ice and fire"; "Wander the city and tour the world."
Among them, City Walk, that is, City Walk in big cities such as London, Tokyo, and Paris, is especially popular with Generation Z. “City Walk originated in London, and we are very happy to see that Chinese young people have brought it back to London. ”.
In Kong Zhiqiu’s view, Generation Z’s interests are broad and niche. They express their individuality through the pursuit of interests, but not for publicity, but to achieve self-worth and recognition in their interest circles.
Reflecting the demand for travel, many young people like to live in "Airbnb rooms" that share public spaces such as kitchens and living rooms. The price is lower and they can communicate with locals. "Living in a room is equivalent to living in the city." Or rent an old castle in Europe together in groups of three or five, enjoying yourself while also being prudent at the same time.
In order to capture the hearts of young people, Airbnb has also launched many corresponding marketing activities. It has cooperated with big IPs such as Barbie on "Airbnb Exclusive" to provide unique housing, or publish guides on trendy culture and festival events. Including the Fuji Rock Music Festival in the summer vacation and the upcoming Thailand Loy Krathong Festival.
There are still many young people who have not been abroad, but Airbnb believes that they will definitely go abroad next. "Young people are the future of the world and the future of Airbnb."
Choose where to live and embrace the local lifestyle
After fully serving outbound travel, Airbnb China has been trying to cross the river by feeling its stones, and even its cognition has gone through many iterations.
Kong Zhiqiu recalled that when outbound travel was not allowed to travel due to the epidemic, one of their insights was that users would feel anxious and care about stability.
However, now, to their surprise, users are much more open-minded than they imagined. Especially young people, who may go abroad for a concert, "think of traveling as a part of life."
Airbnb also encourages this kind of openness internally. It gives employees a travel fund of US$500 every quarter to encourage people to travel abroad and stay in Airbnb.
Kong Zhiqiu said, "You can only feel it when you are in the water." In many cases, only through real experience can you know which parts of the trip are touching and which parts are not enough.
Taking Kong Zhiqiu’s own experience as an example, he went to Japan many times due to work, and even “quickly threw up”. However, he still found time to force himself to travel and use Airbnb products as much as possible.
Once, Kong Zhiqiu lived in a neighborhood in Japan. The menus in the small shops there were all handwritten in Japanese, and even Google couldn't translate them. But for a moment, he felt inexplicably calm and seemed to have become a local resident. "Like As young people often say, I have made peace with myself."
This is what sets Airbnb apart from other accommodations—the listings offer only a fraction of the value. When a tenant chooses a house, he also chooses the surrounding environment and community. "For example, if I live in a landlord's home in Paris, I can be a Parisian for a week."
In this regard, Airbnb "Experiences" has a strong say. It is a product launched in 2016. Like "Houses", it can be booked individually. Thousands of experience hosts share their knowledge and enthusiasm to tourists. Introducing their neighborhood.
▲ Phuket experience project "Save the Gibbons, Save the Forest".
City Walk, exploring neighborhoods on bicycles, shopping at local farmers markets, participating in short courses for photographers…all kinds of imaginable and unexpected experiences await visitors. This is a great way to get to know a city: not only are you exploring the city, but you are being taken there by locals, you build friendships with them, and you get a truly authentic experience at the same time.
At the same time, Airbnb is also experimenting with the "Discover the World" function, which encourages users to post real reviews with pictures to help other users find properties that match their personality.
▲"Discover the World".
"Discover the World" allows users to concretely see what life will be like if they live in this B&B. Not only the interior of the B&B, but also the surrounding neighborhoods, the coffee shop on the corner, the natural landscape, and the communication with the landlord.
If you are "planted" by the experience, you can choose the linked property. On the other hand, choosing this property is actually choosing the experience it can bring.
The insight behind this is, when we talk about travel, what exactly are we talking about? Air tickets or B&Bs are actually just means to achieve travel. Mountain climbing, surfing, and visiting temples are the travel itself.
▲"Tenant Recommended" Listing – Chic Loft in Athens, Greece.
We hope to give users a feeling: Airbnb is not just a house, nor is it just an experience, but it brings you a comprehensive experience of living as a local for a period of time.
During the interview, Kong Zhiqiu mentioned a very important word – "sense of mission." This is the responsibility he gave to the Airbnb China team.
Airbnb is a part of tourism. Tourism itself can bring a very beautiful feeling. Our role is to connect Chinese travelers with the world.
Airbnb has more than 7 million active listings worldwide. It updates quickly and is highly differentiated. It corresponds to thousands of interests and needs. There will always be a listing that gives you a strong sense of belonging. This is Kong One of the reasons why Zhiqiu is very optimistic about the Airbnb business, and what they can do is to help users choose suitable houses through product updates, and then integrate into the local community.
Returning to the most direct human nature, Kong Zhiqiu believes that everyone is not alone. What you like is also liked by another person somewhere in the world. Airbnb listings also have such attributes. Perhaps One day you will find, "I should live in such a house, and living in such a house is suitable for me." In a certain second of unexpected encounter, you will resonate with the people and the world around you.
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