Plan B for AirBnb check-in experience.

Raman Shalupau
2 min readJun 18, 2022

Airbnb is great when it works. And it’s an absolute nightmare when it doesn’t. The biggest problems are around the check-in experience. When you check into Airbnb and it is not what you expected or, even worse, when you cannot check in at all — you wish you just booked a hotel and never used Airbnb on the first place.

I recently came across this horror store on Twitter that went viral about a man who could not access his Airbnb:

And I myself in a similar situation recently (though not as bad)

In both cases Airbnb support agents barely did anything and the best thing they offered was a small refund in the form of a coupon code that you can use in the future. Which is a far cry from the support that is actually needed in these sort of high stress situations and definitely different from the expectations that they are setting with a “$50,000 insurance policy for emergency situations”.

From Airbnb’s perspective, they can make an argument that they’re running a hard business where they don’t fully manage the inventory as well as the expectations of the customer base. And the product is not homogeneous. So from their perspective they might argue that they cannot do much in these situations. CryptoJobsList is a double sided marketplace as well, and I can certainly relate to their perspective. However, I feel the situation is easier and can be improved.

Here’s my take on what I would do, if I was part of Airbnb operations and the customer success team.

  • First of all it is important to understand what customers actually want in these critical situations. When you are unable to check in you just wanna check in somewhere as soon as possible especially when it is late in the day. When the apartment does not meet your expectations you want to check in somewhere nicer or in a compatible unit as soon as possible.
  • Airbnb will leverage the close relationships with their hosts worldwide. These are the Superhosts, and Airbnb Plus. These hosts are part of the program where they are available to welcome guests stuck in these situations on such short notice.
  • These Plan B accommodations will always be from a verified host with at least one review and perhaps a few other listed accommodations. This will assure that the base-level quality remains high, and not worse than the existing check-in experience.
  • It is important that Airbnb does not make the details of this “Plan B” public, so that people are less likely to take advantage of it. Again, this is an emergency-level procedure, and should be treated as such by all.

I wonder if the reason Airbnb hasn’t implemented this is because it’s more complex and costly than it seems. But is it really? I strongly believe that the value Airbnb will get from long term customer retention is much higher than the cost.



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