Agynt Studio | Real Estate Customer Experience Series: How AirBnB doubled their revenue in 1 week

Real Estate Customer Experience Series: How AirBnB doubled their revenue in 1 week

June 13, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

How AirBnB Doubled Their Revenue In 1 Week


AirBnB was a failing startup in 2009.  The small 3 man team had maxed out their credit cards shortly after their launch and were only making $200/week in revenue.  They spent some time looking at their 40 listings in New York and realized there was 1 thing in common between all of them.  Co-founder Joe Gebbia explains:

"We noticed a pattern. There's some similarity between all these 40 listings. The similarity is that the photos sucked."

The photos sucked?  Yep, he says that each of the property owners were taking pictures with their cell phones; blurry, dark, crooked photos.  "It actually wasn't a surprise that people weren't booking rooms because you couldn't even really see what it is that you were paying for,” Gebbia says.

Gebbia took his team to New York and upgraded all the photos.  In the first week after they listed each property with new photos they saw a revenue of $400 come in.  The first improvement in 8 months.  What they learned from this experience is that not always can you "scale" your way out of a problem.  If you don't know what that means, "scaling" it's the term applied to a solution that works effortlessly across a vast landscape.  For instance, when you write a letter by hand, it takes maybe 15 minutes.  To write 100 letters it would take you 1500 minutes, or about 25 hours (longer if you consider all the hand cramps).  But when you type that letter into the computer and print it out it might take 10 minutes the first time, and 2 seconds each time after that.  This is scaling.

"Alright, so what does that have to do with me?" you might be asking.  Well, Gebbia realized that in order to provide a good customer experience, his team had to put themselves in the shoes of their customer.  They needed to experience what their customer experienced in order to serve them better (and sell more product).

Gebbia goes on to share an experience he had when he was designing a medical device for a hospital.  His team acted as the patients and they had the device applied to them.  They could feel how awkward and uncomfortable it was and realized there was a better way to approach the design.

Put yourself in your client's shoes  

As a real estate agent, you can do the same thing for your clients.  Take a look at what you have to offer your clients and see if it gives them a good experience.  Walk yourself through the entire process of buying or selling a home.  Play both roles as you do this: be the Realtor and the client.  Send yourself emails of listing exactly how you would do it for a client.  How do they come across?  Are the links hard to find?  Are you not being very clear in your descriptions?  When you click on an MLS link, what happens?  How does the listing appear from a non-agent perspective?  Are you forgetting the criteria your clients mention (like "we want a south facing house") and sending them homes that don't fit their criteria?  This is frustrating as a customer because it feels like you aren't taking the time to listen to what I have to say.

Walk yourself through all the paperwork.  What is hard to understand?  What parts of the contracts are not very clear?  How can you explain them better so your clients feel more confident in the process.  If you are able to explain all aspects of the real estate process in 2 or 3 different ways, you'll be viewed as more knowledgeable than someone who can't.  

Video record your listing presentation.  Are there things you say that aren't clear to those of use who don't speak "real estate?"  Do you speed through some parts but over-explain other parts?  Watch the video with a non-agent friend and get their feedback.

And maybe your process is just fine.  After all, millions of people buy homes every year following a somewhat standard process, so it can't be that bad, right?  Well, even if it isn't broken, it can still be improved (that's how BMW, Mercedes, and Audi build their entire business; cars work just fine but they can be better).  Another example from AirBnB is how they changed their review rating system from using stars to using hearts.  They boosted engagement by 30% almost overnight with one little tweak.  What about your process can you tweak that will give your clients that little extra bit of connection and emotion?  Think of something you can do for them that other agents aren't likely to do.

A good experience generates referrals

The user experience also plays a big part in the number of referrals you'll get.  The better the experience, the more referrals your clients will hand out (and the worse the experience, the worse things people will say about you).  The user experience also plays a big role for those who aren't your clients.  Are your listings filled with high quality professional photos, or crooked and dark cell phone shots?  When someone Google's your name and checks out your website, are they presented with an exciting story about you or do they see a stale sales pitch about ALL listings from ALL over the state?

Remember, referrals have to be GENERATED.  This requires work on your part; you can't just sit back and wait for them to happen by doing nothing out of the ordinary.  If you want people talking about you, you have to give them something worth talking about.  A generic approach to real estate is not enough to get people's attention these days.  

Fortunately, there are so many amazing things that we've just talked about that you can do to make sure your clients are having a good experience with you.  And for those who aren't your clients yet, there are so many things you can do to make sure they see you as Utah's Premier Real Estate Agent and you aren't just slapping those words on the side of a moving truck or a bus stop.


Who would have thought that providing a great real estate experience for your clients would help you stand out?  I know, crazy right?  Remember, you are the pro here.  You know everything about everything.  Take the time to give them good explanations for the things that can be confusing.  And give each of your clients the things you would want a real estate agent to do for you if you were to hire someone else to sell your house.




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