Airbnb, the red-hot startup which enables people to turn their apartments or bedrooms into ad hoc hotels and rent them out to strangers, needed a simple way to let hosts communicate with would-be guests without revealing either party’s contact info. Written messages worked fine for some hosts, but for many, it wasn’t enough: these hosts wanted to talk on the phone with potential guests before letting them into the sanctity of their homes. Airbnb, which was already using Twilio to deliver SMS notifications, leveraged Twilio’s platform to build Voice Connect, a click to call application that lets hosts call potential guests simply by clicking a link on Airbnb’s site.
We sat down with Andrew Vilcsak, Airbnb’s Mobile Platform Lead, to talk about the new Voice Connect click-to-call app.
Building Voice Connect click to call on Twilio
Twilio: Tell me about Voice Connect. Why did Airbnb build it?
Andrew: We’re now able to give hosts more confidence while ensuring their contact information remains private. With Voice Connect, a host simply logs in and clicks a call link. We then dial both parties and connect the call. We don’t have to release either person’s information. The whole thing gives hosts more confidence and lets us keep the transaction on our platform.
Twilio: Why did Airbnb build VoiceConnect on Twilio?
Andrew: The biggest thing was the ease of integration. Twilio’s documentation was very easy to follow and meshing Twilio’s API with our platform was super simple. Also important was the international dialing – half of Airbnb’s users are on an international line. We looked at a couple of providers, but Twilio’s international dialing is as good as any.
Twilio: How long did the Twilio implementation take?
Andrew: We started it in the middle of a sprint and went from concept to production in 48 hours.
Twilio: Any other interesting details from building VoiceConnect or other Twilio apps that you’d like to share?
Andrew: I love building stuff on Twilio. You get a high-impact application and it’s so easy to work with. The fact that you can build an app to call a phone number anywhere in the world and do it in a matter of hours is amazing.