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Service: The CornerstonE

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As with many areas in our lives, customer service is the cornerstone of how we expect to experience the world. This is to say that as consumers of goods and services, we expect to have our concerns addressed in a timely manner by professionals focused on our needs. The business travel world is no exception. According to a Medium.com article researching Travel Industry trends, the travel industry as a whole is undergoing a huge change with the addition of AI, robots, the Internet of Things and mobile applications[1]. Even with all of these changes, customer service remains the cornerstone of the interactions between businesses and consumers. With that in mind, Travel Managers might be wondering how Airbnb/Homeshare Services stack up.

Airbnb Customer Service

In short, because Airbnb was built around the needs of hosts, guest customer service has never really been their focus. Based on the research done by Asher Fergusson, customer service complaints are by far the most common complaint from guests. In fact, 82% of the guest rating reviews that Fergusson and his team reviewed mentioned some kind of Airbnb customer service interaction and 57.5% of reviews of these reviews listed “customer service” cited it as their #1 complaint[2]. In his blog article, Fergusson dives deeply into where Airbnb went wrong. But suffice it to say, that because Airbnb didn’t make customer service a priority from the beginning, they have a lot of catching up to do. This isn’t to say that they haven’t been doing that, just that they started further back than other companies in the same industry and they are struggling with continued growing pains. With their entrance into the corporate travel world, it is unclear as to how their customer service is going to change; only time will tell.

Corporate Housing Service

Many corporate housing companies – Switchplace included - pride themselves on having an excellent customer service team. But what makes corporate housing service departments different than Airbnb? Typically speaking, the temporary housing companies have Customer Service Specialists who manage the guest’s visit from start to finish, getting them all the information needed about the location, arranging key drop off, letting the guest know about check in procedures, and generally be a resource for the guest in case any issues arise on their visit. By having this very customer facing role built into the business model and making the guest the focus, corporate housing companies have a very different way of approaching the primary consumer of the service.

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[1] Source: https://medium.com/swlh/top-10-travel-industry-trends-in-2019-d43d157de7b9

[2] Source: https://cdn.asherfergusson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Is-Airbnb-Safe-for-Guests_-Research-Study-Method-Results-Recommendations.pdf