Leveraging Hosts’ Efforts
I discovered through talking with different hosts that those who look to meet and interact with new people already make the extra efforts to be clear about their willingness to interact. Most of them clarify it under “Interaction with guests” section, so if guests don’t seem to be interactive, they would often assume that guests prefer not to interact. On the other side of the platform, guests aren’t aware that “Interaction with guests” section exists because it’s hidden under the lengthy About section.
I decided to surface the information as a new section on the listing page, enabling guests to incorporate this into their decisions about a listing before making a reservation as well as leveraging hosts’ efforts.
An important decision was determining where the section lies on the listing page so that it gets the attention it deserves while not detracting too much attention away from other important information about the listing.
After observing how guests view the listing page, I decided to place it under the check in and out times and above the reviews for two main reasons:
- So that it does not disrupt the flow of information about the physical properties of the listing.
- Although reviews are not placed on the top of the page, most guests use this as a main factor to gauge the quality of their experiences. Placing the section before the reviews ensures that enough attention will be directed to it.
“What’s Your Favorite…?”
Knowing how much hosts are willing to interact is not enough, especially to less out-going guests, to start conversations.
I came across this Designing for Trust article in which Charlie Aufmann, an Experience Design Lead at Airbnb, talks about the excitement and challenges designers face designing for trust. He mentions
“As product designers, we play the role of the mutual friend who invites you to the party“
This concept reminded me of the “first conversation” moments I experienced and observed. People found it easier to develop relationships with people who share a mutual friend because they either (1) heard about each other through that mutual friend before or (2) get the “hey A, this is B. S/he loves x, y, and z” introduction from that mutual friend. The core content of both approaches are about people favorite things like artists, music, or hobbies.
So, how might we translate this to an experience on Airbnb?
After several explorations, I settled on post-confirmation introduction idea. Here’s how it works:
- A couple of days before the trip, a prompt will be sent to both the host and the guest.
2. The link will direct the user to the introduction-to-your-host/guest page.
3. The introduction page surfaces relationship-building-oriented information, including the About section (that’s normally de-emphasized), Favorites, Interactions with Guests, reviews, and languages.
There are two things to I want to highlight here:
Icon-text pairing: I settled on icon-text pairing because it’s easy to digest. Users can recognize rightaway that Akira’s favorite music genre is classical. The categories I initially selected for the purpose of illustrating the concept are cuisine, music, and city. However, this list will require further research to ensure inclusivity.
Timing I chose to present the information: Knowing more about each other builds trust, provides talking points for “first conversations”, and can help alleviate discrimination since it reduce people’s reliance on race as a signal. However, from research, I found that “Favorites”, if presented at a wrong time, might distract guests from the listings’ properties and lead to guests discriminating hosts based on their tastes. Therefore, I chose highlight Favorites after the booking is confirmed.
Clearer Expectations, Meaningful Relationships
By surfacing the “interaction with guests” section and adding a small introduction nudge to learn about each other’s “favorites”, Airbnb serves as that mutual friend who sets clearer expectations and helps kickstart conversations.