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Airbnb – Turning bad news into good memories

With schools resuming their timetables and workplaces returning to full capacity I doubt I’m alone in spending this Monday morning reflecting on the summer we just had. My rose-tinted flashbacks remember the adventures that were had and the memories that were made, while completely denying the existence of uncomfortable sweaty nights and mosquito bites.

This summer I travelled to Japan to indulge in sushi, shrines and sake. However with less than a week to go I received a notification from Airbnb to say our stay had been cancelled.

New legislation in Japan requires Airbnb Hosts to obtain a government registration. Hosts who had not completed the registration were blocked from accepting new bookings and existing stays were cancelled. Just as pre-holiday excitement was reaching its pinnacle, suddenly I was struck down by the dread of having to find an alternative.

That’s when I noticed that not only had Airbnb refunded me the full amount of the stay, but they had gifted me a voucher equal to the value of the stay (almost £700) to help with finding an alternative. Generously, the voucher was valid anywhere in the world over the next 12 months. Suddenly a lot of the worries were lifted…

What really stood out, was that in addition Airbnb gifted us $100 towards an Airbnb Experience. Airbnb Experiences are run by locals who give classes, cultural trips, outdoors adventures, tours, cooking or social excursions. I went on one of Tokyo’s most popular experiences – bar-hopping in Kichijoji hosted by Alejandro, a charismatic American who was fluent in Japanese and had been living here for a number of years. Alejandro navigated us through narrow alleyways lined with izakayas (small standing only bars). He took us to a variety of unique places, some hazier than others in my sake-infused memory until we hit 3am and I was having the ultimate Japanese experience – drunken karaoke.

Airbnb took a negative – and possibly holiday-ruining experience - and went above and beyond my expectations to put it right. In fact, the Airbnb Experience left me with positive memories, both about the place I visited and the brand that made it happen. It introduced me to a service that, despite regularly using Airbnb, I had not previously looked at – but certainly will again.

It really brought home to me that you don’t need to be a high-end brand to deliver outstanding customer experiences and negative news doesn’t have to be a blot on the customer-brand relationship. In fact this Summer AirBnB created a trip highlight for me and guaranteed future business for them.

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