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Airbnb Optimizing ad compliance

Context

As part of my training at The Design Crew, I worked in a team on a fictitious brief for Airbnb. This brief was born from the following observation: there are many negative comments related to the compliance of ads on app stores.

Roles: Benchmark Ideation UI & Prototyping User Tests

On this project, my team worked on the solution space only, as the problem had already been given to us by the mentors.

Problem

"How can travellers be guaranteed that their accommodation is as advertised? "

Benchmark

Having identified all the possible forms of discrepancies between the accommodation and the advert, we focused on the list of facilities, given the many comments reporting malfunctions or absence of facilities listed in the adverts. We went to the Abritel website, a direct competitor to Airbnb, and studied the Airbnb Plus service.

Abritel and Airbnb have a similar approach to the issue of ad compliance: they provide a rating system and the possibility to leave comments.

Airbnb Plus seems to be the best solution to ensure ad compliance. Indeed, the service suggests sending a third party to evaluate the accommodation and validate it, taking into account multiple criteria of excellence.
Negative point: the service is not available everywhere, and the eligibility criteria are very high. In addition, the verification of the accommodation only takes place once. This service does not guarantee its compliance over time.

Ideation

We envisioned a solution that would allow travelers to report a non-compliance via the app, during or after their stay, and allow other users to see this report in the ad. We hypothesised that this would help educate hosts on the importance of matching their accommodation to their listing.

During our conceptualization phase, we explored all the possibilities for a traveler to report a non-compliance. It became clear to us that focusing on the list of facilities was not enough. Indeed, the non-compliance can also be related to the location of the accommodation as well as to more "sensory" criteria such as an odor problem for instance. We therefore had the idea of adding a "well-being" section to the list of facilities.

Solution: "Report an anomaly"

At the end of our conceptualization, we imagined and prototyped a new feature allowing the traveler to report an anomaly in the list of facilities. The report goes back to both the platform and the host. If there is no compromise and/or intervention within 24 hours, it becomes visible in the accommodation listing.

Detailed flow

Camille, our traveller, is staying at Martina's in Rome. Everything was as he expected... except for the lift which got stuck several times.

Camille's wife was very frightened and he decided to report the problem. From the Travel tab, he clicked on "Report an anomaly".

A screen appears with information on how to process this report.

Camille arrives at the list of equipment and selects "Elevator".

If Camille and his wife had been bothered by an odour problem, they could have reported it in the well being section.

Camille enters the status of the lift. He also decides to leave a comment which he can add a photo if he wishes.

A screen informs him that his fault has been reported.

Camille can find his report in the messaging system of the app. If Camille's host does not contact him/her within 24 hours, Camille's alert will be visible in the accommodation's listing, at the level of the equipment concerned.

Some time later, Camille is looking for a place to stay for her new holiday and stops at a flat that catches her eye.

He scans the advertisement and finds that a fault has been reported with the air conditioning.

Camille looks at the details of this anomaly and, before continuing with her booking, decides to ask the host if the problem has been resolved.

Camille just has to wait for news from the host.

User tests and acquired knowledge

When testing our prototype, 5 out of 5 users found the anomaly reporting feature interesting and reassuring in case the host does not respond to their complaint.

We also learned that 5 out of 5 users would not rent an accommodation with a reported anomaly on an equipment they consider as essential. Therefore, there would be less negative feedback for that accommodation.

Finally, we learned that for 5 out of 5 users, this functionality finds its rightful place between the expectations of the traveler and the inherent responsibility of the host.

Conclusion

User tests have shown us that our feature is a useful recourse when contact with the host cannot be made or when the host ignores the traveler's request. Our panel of testers included two hosts on the Airbnb platform who confirmed that they found the 24-hour deadline acceptable and gives enough time to contact the traveler in order to find a solution to the reported anomaly.

The report an anomaly functionality should therefore provide a greater voice for travelers while increasing confidence in the service by improving compliance between the ad and the accommodation over time.

This feature should also raise awareness among hosts to ensure that their accommodation is in compliance with the advert and may help reduce the number of negative reviews related to this topic in app stores.

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