At this point, it feels a bit like Airbnb is no longer for the early adopters only. It no longer feels novel/weird to head to a stranger’s house and stay in their spare room, or to ask strangers to stay in yours. With a community built around the service and reliable, verified checks to maintain quality standards, it’s the preferred option for many people looking for short-term rentals, myself included.
How have they achieved this kind of mainstream credibility and consistent growth? To my mind, it’s the humanity in their communication strategy, and the community-building trust built from beneficial customer and host experiences. My last encounter with the latter was in the amazing office of Team Airbnb. Using the service has been reliably pleasant over the last four years.
But as I explored the sharing economy and looked for different services and startups to engage with, I came across Love Home Swap. It’s not positioning itself as an Airbnb clone, but its success seems to rely on the same two guiding principles: serve the community, and get everyone to connect.
Quality customer service is the result. When you first approach them, the Home Swap team gets in touch with a personal call to explain the service, and offers you a 2 week trial. (The membership fee makes sense given the target audience interested in long-term stays.) A points system also allows you to benefit from guests staying in your house, even if you are not staying in theirs. I ended up with an amazing place in Los Angeles for a fantastic rental price, all discussed and agreed upon up front, with no nasty surprises or extra charges - an absolute must for a first interaction with the service.
(Here’s a benefit of the membership plan: we’re paid-up members as well as users of the service, so there’s an extra sense of accountability baked into it.)
The more things change, the more it boils back to the same definition of good business. Take heed, travel startups.