Airbandb vs Hotels – Which Provides Better Guest Experience

AirB&B vs HotelI recently returned from visiting Italy and for the first time used airbandb.com to find and book accommodations for a considerable number of nights. Now, whenever I share my experiences of this wonderful country with my friends, they eagerly ask for my opinion about the differences between airbandb.com and hotels. It is not surprising if you consider that relatively few people had direct and multiple experiences staying with the hosts of this well publicized, but quite new platform. Most people, who ever traveled, have experienced hotel services.

My personal experience of airbandb.com was relatively positive as the process of room selection, booking and payment is substantially simpler than most hotel booking services. In most cases (81%) the description of properties and their reviews by the guests were specific, authentic and accurate. The price, and ability to pre-pay that eliminates effects of currency fluctuation, offer substantial value advantage over the comparable hotel room rates.

One of the most important attributes of customer experience is consistency of its delivery. Customers want to know that their expectations, created by company marketing messages, are going to be met. Every time. Most of us know what to expect when we book a hotel room. Judging by the analysis of 45K customer reviews, published on sites like tripadvisor.com and yelp.com, on an average 87% of guests have their expectations met or exceeded. I could not extract a similarly sized data set of airbandb.com customer reviews, but the one I got (~3K) has a substantially lower average satisfaction rating of 69%.

It appears the customer experience delivered by airbandb.com is more like Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates – you never know what you gonna get”.  While not explicitly promising to take care of any potential problems in interactions with hosts, the company does create the expectation of personalized service and local knowledge. I do appreciate the time difference complexity, but 12-15 hour lag in a e-mail response time to a critical customer problem, as we experienced with one of the bookings, is not acceptable. In terms of local knowledge and advice, only 60% of the hosts were willing or capable to provide anything of value.

airbandb guests growth

Airbandb.com started as a “shared economy” platform for low cost accommodation rental, “air mattress bed and breakfast” and was a better alternative to a hostel. Now, many “room” hosts are small hotels, real b&b and real estate investors. That transformation was not clearly understood by me when I made my reservations and my experience did not meet my expectations of authenticity in 3 out of 5 hosts.

In summary, I would recommend to experiment with airbandb.com only if you have more time than money as the cost advantage is indisputable at this time.

 

This entry was posted in Customer Experience CX, Customer Reviews Analytics, Social Media Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Airbandb vs Hotels – Which Provides Better Guest Experience

  1. Jenni says:

    I think it’s all in the direct and indirect cues when it comes to using AirBnB.

    Reviews there are much more important than with hotel reviews; in fact I’d liken them more to eBay. A lot of eBay users won’t buy from a seller unless their feedback rating is 99.95% positive or greater. The same is true for AirBnB; anything below 90% is a red flag. It’s worth dipping in and out of hosts’ reviews to see what the negative points actually are; no fire alarm is a lot more important than ‘Host promised DVDs and there were none’ for example.

    Photos are crucial, as are details about the area. I’ve stayed in Wales and Paris with AirBnB and wasn’t disappointed either time as the details were clear – city centre apartment, six berth caravan. But I did have to use Google Maps to determine exactly what the area was like and what transport was available. Street View is invaluable for booking on AirBnB.

    I also think AirBnB does a good job when it comes to surveying users and collecting feedback. I’d say the two main flaws with it are restrictions on reviews: you can’t review a listing/host if you weren’t able to complete your stay, and there’s a very limited time-period for leaving reviews, which is problematic if you’re travelling from place to place with no internet.

    These are not professional hoteliers and a lot of them are surprisingly professional considering that. It’s impossible to expect a 24/7 hour service with regards to communication; homeowners need to sleep 🙂

  2. Gregory says:

    Gregory Yankelovich November 12, 2015 at 8:48 am (22 comments) #
    Jenni, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Your comparison between eBay and AirBnB reviews influence on purchasing decisions is thought provoking and worth deeper analysis.

    The most influential attribute of guest experience in my data sample of AirBnB was by far “host interactions” (over 30%).

    I think you have misinterpreted my comment about email response lag – “These are not professional hoteliers and a lot of them are surprisingly professional considering that. It’s impossible to expect a 24/7 hour service with regards to communication; homeowners need to sleep” – I was referring to the AirBnB customer service, not the hosts availability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *