Airbnb: The importance of Service Design.

15138575_10154026080776156_258545979930318817_oThere are three key trends that make service design pertinent in today’s world, the economic trend towards value in services, the social trend of rising customer expectations and the technical trend of the rapid progress digital technology that influences services. 1

According to the New York Times, AirBnB is currently raising money at a $30 billion valuation.2 It has created a disruption in the hotel industry but that does not explain its success. According to Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, in order for a start up to successfully disrupt a giant it needs to use the theory of Jobs to Be Done. 3 Many companies focus on their products when they should be focusing on the driving forces behind consumer choices. The job in this context is to create the right customer experiences. Good experiences with the brand bind the consumer socially and emotionally which can have a much higher pay off than functional strategies.

Airbnb used service design to really understand the consumer journey. They started by storyboarding 45 different realistic emotional moments for Airbnb hosts. They studied the consumer journeys to understand their feelings and their pain points. According to Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Chip Conley, the experience of staying in an Airbnb is the core of its customer strategy and they work towards creating the experiences that would match with a customers desires. 4

Airbnb not only lets the consumer rent a home temporarily, but it also provides them with experiences. They have options for customers to choose from a variety of experiences in the fields of art and design, health and wellness, sports, food and drink, nature, fashion and social impact. Each experience targets a specific audience and improves the interaction between the host and the guest by opening gateways of communication. By successfully customising experiences based on specific customer types they have proved that real-life feedback and good service design can not only make the brand more approachable and realistic but also more desirable.

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1. Flu, M., Lovlie, L. and  Reason, B. (2016) Service Design for Business. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
2. Dillon,K. (2016) ‘What Airbnb Understands About Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done”‘, Harvard Business Review, pp. 2-4. Available at: http://hbr.org/product/a/an/H026UI-PDF-ENG (Accessed: 25 November 2016).
3. Ibid., 2-4.
4. Ibid., 2-4.
Image source: http://www.airbnb.com
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