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Airbnb uses push notifications to drive customer satisfaction

April 30, 2012

The Airbnb iPhone app

Airbnb is using push notifications in its mobile application to help users quickly and easily book a room for their travels.

The mobile and online accommodations booking service matches travelers with in-home accommodations around the world. The push notification solution enables Airbnb to facilitate communications between the renter and host to facilitate travel arrangements. 

“Push is a huge part of our mobile ecosystem, and as a result is very much an essential part of the service,” said Andrew Vilcsak, mobile platform lead at Airbnb, San Francisco. 

“Our users absolutely need those fast responses in order for our service to work best for them,” he said. 

“Since our travelers know they can rely on Airbnb to deliver them that crucial information, their lives are made much easier. As a result we get many more happily satisfied customers.”

Real-time communication
Airbnb is a network of people in 192 countries looking to rent out a room or an entire house to travelers. Travelers can discover and book accommodations using the mobile app or from a desktop computer.

To book an accommodation, users enter the dates they are looking for, browse available properties and enter their credit card information.

In the past, email was used when users had questions for a host and for other communications.

However, the service found that email inquiries required users to check frequently for updates and resulted in many rental requests being left unanswered.

Since many travelers do not want to wait days emailing back and forth to firm up their plans Airbnb worked with Urban Airship, which provides push notifications to mobile applications, to come up with a solution that would enable real-time communication between renter and host.

“Both hosts and guests can download the official Airbnb app, and can opt-in to receiving push notifications upon logging in,” Mr. Vilcsak said.

“Users then receive push notifications for both new messages received on the platform as well as new reservations, delivered directly to their mobile device,” he said. 

“All correspondence is stored on the device to enable quick responses and for later reference by both hosts and guests.”

The push notifications services enables international users to receive notifications regardless of their location or carrier.

Push here
Using push notifications, Airbnb can instantly alert owners to any interest in their property and inform travelers that a response to their inquiry is available. As a result, users do not have to constantly monitor email activity.

The company has found that mobile users respond at a much faster rate. With hosts responding three times faster to inquiries received via a push notification, Airbnb has reduced the time required to book lodging through the use of push notifications.

Additionally, users who receive push alerts are half as likely to let responses expire.

As a result of these efforts, more than one fourth of message that are sent from the site are received via the iPhone.

“Push notifications enable both hosts and guests to negotiate details, ask questions and finalize travel plans substantially faster than those who periodically check email or access the  Web site,” Mr. Vilcsak said.

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