“We’re always testing new ways to help our community members tell their stories, and this is one idea we are exploring,” said a spokesperson. “We don’t have any announcements to make, but we’re excited to continue looking at ways that help Airbnb hosts and guests share their travel experiences.”
It’s Stories mania… first it was Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and now Airbnb is launching its own Travel Stories. Stories were originally a Snapchat creation, but it was Instagram that brought them the popularity they have now. After that, the other apps in the Facebook ecosystem jumped on board too – from Messenger to WhatsApp – along with YouTube, Google, and Skype, and some dating apps like Match.
How Airbnb’s Travel Stories work
The Stories feature is still in beta – the company has only invited a small group of users to test the functionality. It will be widely available in the next update of the Airbnb app, but only for iPhone.
To share your Travel Stories, you can’t take pictures or videos directly in the app (unlike Snapchat or Instagram which have direct access to your camera). Instead, you have to choose content already on your camera roll, but you can modify it within the app. The company’s FAQ section says that Stories will have a max duration of 10 seconds – slightly lower than Facebook, where Stories can be up to 15 seconds. The shared content can be seen both on the app and the Airbnb site. Stories are automatically tagged with with the location where the shared photos were taken, along with a list of potential accommodations.
Why Airbnb launched the Story format
Airbnb wants to use a format that’s been trialed in the social media world for renting properties. But why? Engagement is certainly one of the factors that led Brian Chesky and the other Airbnb founders to introduce this new feature. Travelers who share their experiences in a certain destination, accommodation or experience are giving feedback at the same time, which encourages other users to buy the same service. This is why the site says “Airbnb stories are for inspiring other travellers like yourself!” It’s not just engagement, it’s also about fidelity. In fact, the new feature encourages users to use the app often and for longer periods of time, which means customers are using the Airbnb product even when they’re not planning a vacation. With this goal in mind, Airbnb launched Experiences, where users could book things even in their own city–sort of like a concierge service. And in the next few weeks the company will also be launching a loyalty program, but there’s still little known about this. The introduction of Stories is a big step towards understanding if users will start to associate Airbnb with a platform where they can interact, share content and find entertainment instead of just buying a service.