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Episode 24: “Building Trust One Reservation at a Time” with Real Canty, Experience Researcher at Airbnb

Airbnb’s business model seems straight-forward: hosts open their homes to guests for a fee. However, there’s a lot more going on under the surface. In a sharing economy, the currency of success is trust. Listen as Real Canty, Experience Researcher at Airbnb, and Matt Swain discuss how Airbnb is building trust among strangers, thinking through the end-to-end journey, and reshaping interactions around the world in this Reimagining Communications episode, “Building Trust One Reservation at a Time.”

Building Trust through CX Research: “When you think about the sharing economy, it is really based on trust. You have people who are opening their homes to strangers. You have guests who are traveling and staying in strange places, in the homes of people that they've never met. For people who are really trusting, this is perfect for them, but there are other people who are not as trusting. For Airbnb, it's about creating a space where people feel comfortable traveling, meeting other people, and expanding their view of the world. As an experience researcher, I help to facilitate the design of mechanisms that will encourage people to be more trusting, to relax and understand that we are creating safe spaces. It's really a goal of my work.” To hear Real explain more, advance the audio to 01:45.

Organic Meets Strategic: “When you think about Airbnb’s growth, it’s been organic up to this point. There haven't been a lot of commercials; it's just been through word of mouth. So, we’re saying, ‘Look, this thing grew organically. Okay, now, let's actually learn from people. How can we make it better for them? How can we improve it for them?’ That's the challenge that experience research meets. We're doing new things now; we're doing things that are really fresh and sort of cutting edge. We are working with people who are designing tools for customer experience agents and building machine learning models that enable them to read information from reviews and message threads. And, through that, we hopefully create ultimate experiences – not only for the people who we're serving as hosts and guests but also for our agents.” To hear Real explain more, advance the audio to 04:15.

Consider the Full Journey: “The way that we build trust involves recognizing that we're encouraging people to travel. We're encouraging people to trust, and we want to also be able to impact and influence the offline experience. We want to have input and influence on the end-to-end trip, not just what happens when you check in and check out. It's the process of thinking about where you're going to stay, looking on the platform for a place, going to the airport and landing, and going from the airport to your destination. How do you do that? Is it car services? Is it bus? Is it working something out with local travel sources that come and pick you up? We start to deeply consider what the end-to-end journey looks like for our guest and for our host.” To hear Real explain more, advance the audio to 08:45.

Reshaping Interactions: “As for communication mechanisms, we're still figuring this stuff out. There are opportunities to personalize the experience before it happens. This really is a new space. A lot of people think that Airbnb is about empowering people to turn their homes into a business; it really is so much more than that. People have to feel comfortable and secure... Airbnb can become a channel that is about providing more opportunities for people to explore the world and interact in ways that previous businesses and business models didn't afford. That's what we're doing and it's reshaping the way that we interact with the world. To hear Real explain more, advance the audio to 11:15.

To dive into these topics and more, check out our podcast, Reimagining Communications.