How Airbnb’s redesign supports the next generation of mobile travelers
By Chantal Tode
July 21, 2014
The Airbnb app
Airbnb’s recent revamp of its Web site and mobile application points to how the brand is prioritizing showing versus telling as well as community for today’s always-on travelers.
The redesign reduces the amount of text to put a bigger emphasis on informational visuals, including the introduction of video. The result is a more personalized experience designed to empower mobile-savvy travelers who are looking for a personal connection to the places they visit.
“By reducing the amount of text, using more compelling and informational visuals, including the addition of video, and focusing on lifestyle-oriented content, they are streamlining the most meaningful information and encouraging engagement by showing vs. telling,” said Jeff Anulewicz, executive director of strategy and analytics at MXM. “They are emphasizing that this is not just a replacement for a hotel, but an invite to join a new community of trusted travelers and hosts, to share an experience with a stranger and perhaps, for a moment step into someone else's life.
“In the end, this redesign is ultimately aimed at utilizing compelling content to drive greater engagement and consumer action, while looking to cement Airbnb as the leaders of the next wave of travel, where users are not just passive tourists looking for a deal, but explorers looking to engage with the people and places they visit in a more personal way,” he said.
Airbnb, which reportedly has over $1 billion in sales, is a good example of how mobile is supporting the growing sharing economy. With smartphone-wielding consumers having easy access to systems allowing for efficient sharing and payment mechanisms, apps such as Airbnb make it possible to easily rent a stranger’s apartment for a night (see story).
The new Airbnb look began its roll out last week and will continue hitting devices over the next couple of weeks.
The listings page is designed to tell a story, with photos, neighborhood highlights and details about the owner.
To help it accomplish these goals, the photos are now bigger and appear throughout a listing description. Users are able to click on any photo to see the rest of the images attached to a listing.
The way listing information is presented has also been changed, with all of this information now appearing on a single page, with amenities and house rules appearing more prominently.
The redesign also places a bigger focused on personalized discovery experiences to meet the needs of mobile users.
“The app's utilities have similarly been overhauled for the Hyperconnected consumer,” Mr. Anulewicz said. “For instance, the newly revamped Discover feed is more highly personalized to the individual, taking into account their preferences and interactions to learn and react to their changing needs while anticipating future desires, highlighting only the most sought-after information about each property and the surrounding areas.”
New icons enable users to review a selection of the amenities offered.
For listers sharing neighborhood favorites in a guidebook, this information has moved from a separate tab to a prominent spot and now features a bigger map.
Overall, the new look is cleaner with the goal of being clearer and more inviting.
“Airbnb’s rebranding is positioning themselves center stage in the new cultural emergence of sharing and openness, taking ownership of the once niche couch-surfing phenomenon with numbers that now rival the amount of hotel rooms in the country,” Mr. Anulewicz said.
“With this rebranding comes a redesign of their mobile app and web properties focused on today’s Hyperconnected consumer: time-starved, highly-distracted with extremely high expectations of their digital experiences,” he said.
“Airbnb has shifted the focus of their user experience to acknowledge what resonates most with this audience: simplicity, empowerment, personalization and most of all, a human connection.”
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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