Product Case Study: AirBnB Application

As my previous posts have indicated, AirBnB is the product focus of this technology innovation case study. The product is a platform that allows travelers to book accommodations wherever they’re going. The catch is that these accommodations are not limited to hotels, motels, or inns, but can be anywhere that a host (or renter) lives. This means travelers could rent a couch, a house, a treehouse, a mansion, or anything in between for a night, two nights, or as long as the host is willing to rent. The possibilities are truly endless.

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What makes it new and innovative are both the accommodation options and the hosts. This app has embodied the epitome of the sharing economy, giving the power to rent to the people and allowing for hosts to make extra income by renting out all types of properties for those who are traveling through. Pictured above are just a couple of unique options on the site.

This app is not going away, either. AirBnB is now located in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries across the world. It’s also exceedingly simple to use: all a user has to do is sign up for free, type in where they want to go and when, and choose their destination based on their price range, location, and what the accommodation is. Below is an example of how easy it is.

Type in your preferences:

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And pick your destination from the list of options:

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Of course, you can register for hotel rooms online too. However, we all know what we’re getting when we sign up to stay in a hotel room. On AirBnB, the draw is the ability to stay in a lived-in home in a part of your destination that may not offer hotels. It allows the renter to stay in the heart of their destination and experience the city/place in a way that’s just not possible with a hotel room. There’s a human element in this type of sharing economy rental. Previously, there were options to compare hotel room prices, but that was obviously limited to hotel rooms only. This is something new and unique altogether.

Renters are using this service to do all types of new things: students have gone on spring break by renting out mansions in the Hamptons. Even small schools are being rented out that can be utilized for summer classes or private teaching. This one below, named the Headfort House, is located in Ireland.

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As you can see, the app doesn’t limit itself at strictly renting venues for places to sleep, but also places to host, have fun, or in this case, even teach classes or a whole curriculum. These are just some of the reasons that the app has diffused so widely so quickly (8 years). Another reason being it allows hosts to make extra money on the side by renting out a room or a couch or even another property of theirs so easily. All they have to do is list it online! The renter makes money and the rentee enjoys a homely experience at their destination. It’s mutually beneficial.

Of course, as with all things, there are positive and negative impacts to new, innovative technologies. The positives being more options for those seeking to rent and the ability for hosts to make money along with hotel chains. In fact, even though AirBnB has expanded to so many places, it has largely left the hotel industry unaffected (at least for now).

Some negatives, of course, would be that it will eventually cause some of the hotel industry to lose revenue and customers as it grows even more. Additionally, it has caused many loopholes in legislation in most places, as legislators, states, and countries were unable to tax the accommodation transactions at first, since government moves at a much slower pace than does innovative technology.

Overall, there are positives and negatives to any new, disruptive technology. It takes time for the landscape to adjust to apps like AirBnB, Uber, Spotify, etc. However, AirBnB is not going away. In fact, they will continue to expand as more people begin to feel comfortable as both hosts and renters given the coninued success of the company. There will be bumps in the road, but that is the point of disruption. If it continues to embody the sharing economy, it will only grow and serve as a how-to for similar technology companies in all types of industries.

 

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