What I’ve Got: Airbnb, the Stranger Danger Game-Changer

by post_author

Here’s a fascinating TED talk I came across recently about how Airbnb designs for trust—getting people to overcome “stranger danger” fears and trust strangers to stay in their homes, and vice versa. The founders began with the assumption that all humans are basically good, and designed a system that would facilitate trust in just the right ways so it would grow and multiply amongst its users. For example, they removed anonymity, instituted two-way reviews to bolster reputations amongst both hosts and guests, and encouraged personal interaction before booking. According to Gebbia, the co-founder pictured above, everything had to be calibrated to be within the sweet spot of facilitating trust: for instance, in host/guest interactions, too little information about someone could decrease trust, while too much information could also have the same effect. To prevent this, the message box has a character limit to prevent oversharing, and talking prompts are given to the user to guide them towards the right direction.

As a result of savvy design decisions like these, Airbnb boasts high retention rates and an extremely small customer dissatisfaction rate. Personally, I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it meets my needs so well and brands itself as a true experience that is dedicated to fostering human connection, belonging, and friendship.

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