I usually post an idea hoping one of my friends will steal it and make it happen. But this time, I’m going a bit beyond that and wishing a $13 billion company would steal my idea!
Airbnb, for those of you who don’t already know (shame on you), is a hospitality exchange company that allows people to rent apartments, homes, or even tree houses, mostly when traveling abroad (still, shame on you).
But here’s the thing: Airbnb is not just a hospitality exchange company. In fact, this is like saying Minecraft is just a computer game. To say it is just a hospitality company is the silliest thing and couldn’t possibly describe the inter-cultural experience gained while using the Airbnb service.
Through Airbnb, I have co-occupied apartments with people from all different parts of the world, people with different languages, foods, religions, and many other things. Those people are now some of my closest friends and people whom I constantly miss and wish I could spend more time with. We have shared great moments and amazing discussions, such that I have shared the memories and stories a bazillion times after coming home to my friends and family.
And right now, there are 60,000 people having those moments with no clear way of sharing them with the world.
So the suggestion I’m giving now, with Airbnb Moments, is beyond a few sketches that would make the service better. I’m hopeful that my suggestion could take the service to another level by supporting its mission—“Belong Anywhere”—and by giving Airbnb the real value that is way beyond a bunch of code that helps you check in and check out of an apartment. I’m talking about a bunch of code that will distribute the unique cultural moments happening around the world.
There’s thousands of these wall-breaking stories happening everyday, and I think Airbnb should consider putting those in the light.
The name says everything. Airbnb Moments helps people using the Airbnb service share their best moments with a public network of travelers.
Let’s move to the mockups I made during the holidays:
The icon is basically a take on the official airbnb icon, flipping it upside down in a shape of an “M” (which stands for Moments), as well as a heart (which obviously stands for love and happy moments)
Join the moment:
Sign up with Airbnb (which will get all the information required, from profile info, to listings, current trips, and reviews, etc…). Users can still connect social networks later on, but signing up with Airbnb is essential as it carries everything the app requires to provide the full experience.
Very similar to an Instagram feed, but for awesome moments instead of food and selfies (though it might include #food and #selfies as well). Save your favorite moments, check locations, users, reviews, captions, and hashtags. You can also hit the search button to look for moments by location or keywords and #hashtags .
+ The core feature of the app: snap a moment right from that round red button.
Navigate other sections of the app:
Discover: Trending places and featured listings
Trips: Manage current trips and plan next trips
Wishlist: Access your favorite moments/listings
Around me: Find moments around you
Profile: Check and edit your Airbnb profile
Once you hit a moment, you can contact the host, book the listing, and know almost everything about the host, guest, and the listing itself (location, reviews, amenities, specifications, price, availability, etc…). The screen is very similar to the one in the Airbnb app after clicking a certain listing.
Snap the moment:
A moment is worth a thousand pictures, but let’s just pick one. Click the red “snap” button and take a picture or video to illustrate the moment. (Video could be a six second Vine-style video.)
Share the moment:
The user can add a caption with #hashtags, tag friends and people in the moment, and share on social media. (Apartment is directly detected from the data retrieved after signing up with Airbnb). Also, there is potential to add something called “Story,” where the user doesn’t just type a quick caption, but adds an actual post about this specific experience or moment.
The profile shows the user’s moments, reviews, badges (check below), and listings (if there’s any). It also allows people to contact the user depending on his/her public preferences.
We can also add a follow button. For example, I’d be very interested in following someone on a trip to India or China, or simply someone who frequently travels and shares interesting stories, moments, and photographs.
Another idea I have to gamify the usage of not only Airbnb Moments, but the whole Airbnb service as well, was “Badges”! Who doesn’t love badges? And who didn’t get angry when foursquare took the work of our life away a few months ago?
Whenever someone shares moments in a specific city/country or even specific hashtags or keywords, he/she gets a badge for that achievement. This helps build a cool and trustworthy profile as well.
One of the questions that came to my mind while designing Airbnb Moments was: how can we reward awesome people sharing great moments and incentivize them to use the platform more often? And for a moment I thought, if I had a listing, I wouldn’t mind offering a discount to guests who share positive cool moments (as this will increase trust and safety with the next guests). So one way to do this is for the hosts to offer a symbolic discount for sharing moments. The other kind of rewards could come from Airbnb itself, to help kick off the platform for the first few months. (This could simply be discounting the 10% cut that Airbnb takes on each reservation.)
It looks cool on the browser as well:
The app ain’t just an app; it’s going to improve the web browser experience as well.
Besides showing pictures of the place along with some specifications, it will now show the spirit and the life behind the walls of this apartment.
So, what’s in it for Airbnb?
-Boost user engagement.
-Radically improve trust and security. (Phillip Cardenas would have loved this.)
-Build an active community.
-Enhance the viral effect of each user sharing stories and moments.
-Improve the number of bookings.
-Lower barriers to booking, by showing moments and establishing trust, hence leading to a more spontaneous reservation.
-Understand each user’s interest and use that data to improve the user’s experience. (Exactly what Brian Chesky mentioned in his interview with Sarah Lacy.)
-Turn Airbnb from a usable service to a shareable story.
The new equation:
After designing the whole thing, I came to realize that Airbnb Moments could be integrated in the original Airbnb app instead of being a stand-alone app. In both cases it will still have the same features.
An ambitious statement:
If any awesome person at Airbnb reads this, I’m coming to San Francisco on January 19th, and yes, I would love to grab some coffee and discuss the project.
Drop me an email
I pitched Airbnb Moments to the Airbnb design team at Airbnb HQ in San Francisco. And they LOVED it.
Jihad Kawas with the Airbnb Design Team
Jihad Kawas next to The Founder and CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky