AirBNB’s Product Shortcomings: No Fridge, Technology, or Service Widgets
AirBNB is not an engaging host or guest platform. There is hardly anyway to customize a listing, except through static photos. The offer to improve a listing through ‘professional photography’, for instance, feels more like desperation than a real attempt at engagement. These shortcomings, however, are hardly worth mentioning. AirBNB’s problem is not so much with its lack of customization within its listings than with its product offerings. Throughout the company’s history there has not been a single advance in any of its product offerings or any new ways of offering their sole product, spaces.
AirBNB is not an ideal platform for spaces. Where is the host engagement? The dashboard, for instance, does not allow a host to increase his or her engagement in hospitality at all. Of course, you can chit-chat all you want. There is no end to endless chatter but there are no options, for instance, to cater to guests; there is no fridge widget; there is no technology widget; there is no services widget.
Image being able to order your favorite beer, wine or spirits way ahead of your exquisitely planned getaway on AirBNB. Imagine the joy a host may experience by facilitating the reception of these drinks, stocking a mini fridge just like a hotel mini fridge or processing payment for these transaction on the AirBNB platform. AirBNB’s platform, however, does not have a fridge widget. With a fridge widget a host’s abilities to cater a guest’s desired foodstuffs could be endless. The widget could process payment just like the widget for processing payment on space itself.
Imagine being able to update a room with different sized televisions, accommodating the deposit budgets of multiple different travelers. Walmart’s Onn collection, for instance, is one of the most modular product lines in the history of mankind. For under $500 you can equip a room with a setup that may be successively upgraded. Since the Fixed TV Wall Mount from the Onn collection relies upon the same base, a host could offer guests, who are willing to pay a higher deposit, a successively larger screen sizes of televisions. The tv mounts are identical so a host could alternate from one sized television to another.
You could offer a 32" TV, a 50" TV or a 60" TV in a house with three rooms, alternating the equipment as desired by guests. You could offer differ types of media such as a Hulu, AppleTV, Chromecast, or YouTube; you could offer different types of controllers or video game consoles as part of these technological upgrades. You could even offer different types of devices. Imagine being able to offer a slough of devices for children such as tablets or handheld gaming devices.
However, on the AirBNB dashboard there is no way to allow a guest to upgrade his or her technology. There is no way to allow a guest to select from a list of hosted options, which technological upgrades a guest may or may not want. There are zero options on the AirBNB dashboard for offering any kind of technological upgrades whatsoever.
Image a services widget on the AirBNB dashboard. You as a host could offering all kinds of different types of hospitality. You could offer room service, common provisions such as additional towels or wash clothes, ultra cheap washing or drying services to help accomodate long term travelers, who haven’t had a chance to wash their clothes. You could offer breakfast, lunch or dinner or provide offerings such as a bicycle or other forms of transport. You could even offer a car rental. Imagine being able to drop off your own vehicle at the airport so that your AirBNB guest could take it back to your house. It would give new meaning to Raymond Carver’s short story, Neighbors. Imagine, for instance, offering a selection of different types of
These widgets, which would be entirely optional, are missing from AirBNB’s dashboard. There is no way for a host to increase his or her engagement in hospitality with any kind of widget on the AirBNB dashboard. It is not an engaging platform at all. Without these types of widgets AirBNB’s platform fails to engage guests in any meaningful way.
What is more problematic, however, is the fact that AirBNB’s failure to introduce new product offerings in the form of dashboard widgets, deprives the company of an opportunity to collect exceptional amounts of insightful user data. Imagine the untold insights into user upgrade selections that could open the door to marketing or sales opportunities. While initially the platform may have revolutionized spaces as a product offering, the platform is now static.