Airbnb empowers private residents and commercial properties to rent out extra space to travelers looking for a hotel alternative. Their slogan, "travel like a human", captures the essence of the unique experience Airbnb provides to travelers looking for affordable, creative, or unconventional lodgings.
Airbnb enables hosts with an available room or property to post listings, and potential guests looking for a place to stay can search by city or country, utilizing filters such as price and room type to find exactly what suits their needs. From there, guests and hosts communicate through the website to finalize the details of the reservation.
When travelers make a reservation through Airbnb, the host has 32 hours to accept or decline the booking request. Frequently, hosts are not at their computer and can't respond quickly, even though they would like to confirm the booking.
"We often had to resort to manually calling hosts who have not responded to ask them to confirm or deny the request," says Naomi Arnold, Customer Service, Airbnb. "Dedicating staff to manually calling hosts takes away from their ability to handle customer support…a costly distraction."
Airbnb chose Twilio to automate mobile communication between rental hosts and potential guests using text messaging. If a host has not responded to a request, they receive an automated SMS message with information on the guest(s), the dates, and the price for the stay. They can then quickly respond with a message reply.
"We have hosts all over the globe," explains Naomi, "and they always have their phones with them. By allowing them to accept requests via SMS, we have significantly improved the percentage of successful bookings while saving countless hours of manual calling."
Enabling hosts to confirm a reservation with their mobile phone has increased the number of successful bookings, and improved the user experience for potential guests because they don't have to wait as long to hear back on a reservation.
"As a small company, the cost of implementing an SMS infrastructure by ourselves would have been impossible," says Naomi. "Twilio allowed us to use SMS with our customers quickly without putting a dent in our expenses."