The story behind airbnb's refer a friend programme


One of the success stories of recent years, airbnb, have just revealed that they managed to boost bookings by 25% in some markets since they launched their refer a friend programme.

One of the team members who worked on the project recently published an excellent post on how they got refer a friend to work. By the sounds of things, it's something that they're rightly very proud of.

They say a lot in here that we would strongly agree with, including:

The value of testing

They point to some tests they did to figure out whether highlighting the offer for the referrer or the referee resulted in a higher conversion rate. For airbnb the altruistic message performed better. Our experience is that answers to questions like this vary by business but there is no doubt that there is huge value in testing.

The value of good reporting and metrics

This is one of the classic problems of most in-house refer-a-friend programmes insofar as it is rarely practical to build out all of the reporting that is needed to show what is going on. This matters because if you can't see what's going on, you can't fix it and improve it. airbnb really invested in this ... as have we at Mention Me.

The value of personalisation

Airbnb have done a great job of making the referrer arrival a very personalised experience. All of this is important. The conversion rate is very high on someone who has been referred. The more that you can catch them and make them feel special and appreciated when they arrive, the higher that conversion rate will be.

The value of sharing in conversation

Airbnb developed unique voucher codes for each customer. This is good. In this they were trying to find a way for people to share without needing to share by links which is critical to capturing face-to-face recommendations. The challenge here is that the customer still needs to remember the code and their friend needs to write it down too. The Mention Me approach of just getting the friend to enter the referrer's name in the checkout is even simpler.

Airbnb approached this in a great way and we'd like to congratulate them on a job very well done.

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