2020 Customer Awards: Airbnb - Keep Calm and Carry On

2020 Customer Awards: Airbnb - Keep Calm and Carry On








Company: Airbnb

Company background: Founded in 2008, Airbnb is one of the world’s premier online marketplace companies. Based in San Francisco, California, United States, Airbnb offers accommodation and local tourism experiences.

Contact: Anna Wu

Title: Community Lead, Airbnb

Related URLs:

Kudos Category: Keep Calm and Carry On

1. How did your team shift your existing strategy to better engage customers during a crisis?

How do you respond as a travel company when no one in the world can travel?

This period has certainly been the most challenging time in Airbnb’s history. Nearly overnight, our guests were unable to travel, our income disappeared and our hosts’ businesses were under threat. 

From a strategy perspective, we knew we needed to do two things:

  1. Support our hosts through this incredibly challenging time.
  2. Make a meaningful contribution to the world’s recovery from COVID-19.

The Community objectives therefore shifted to support these two key priorities:

  1. Create opportunities and spaces for our hosts to stay connected with Airbnb and each other. We needed to prioritise helping them navigate new types of business, best practises and tackling the loneliness and isolation that global lockdown brought. 
  2. Support our hosts to safely execute ‘frontline stays’ - our global initiative to house 100,000 health workers who needed to stay away from their families.

2. What operational processes did you create or change to respond in a time of crisis?


Honesty and Transparency

First and foremost, we knew that we had to make extra effort to communicate clearly with our hosts. We made senior stakeholders more visible in the Community Center. We had an honest conversation about the challenges our business was facing and engaged in dialogue about how we could best support hosts. Our CEO Brian Chesky engaged in direct dialogue with hosts to communicate key support, actions and policy updates.


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Aisling, global head of customer support, made herself visible in the community to communicate the unprecedented challenges we were facing. Whilst we were expecting a lot of negativity in the community, this post  received some very positive responses.


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A Dedicated Group for Frontline Stays


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We set ourselves the goal of housing 100,000 health workers globally. Our hosts rose to the challenge but needed to:

  • Consider donating their space or reducing their price.
  • Learn about important, safety related qualification criteria.
  • Use best practises for the personal safety of guests and themselves. 


With these new complexities, this group was essential to have the timely, supportive and rich dialogue our hosts needed. Those involved could connect with others who were going through the same thing and could celebrate great hosting stories together with us.


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Specific COVID-19 Discussion Boards 

We opened up three new boards in the English, French & German Communities to provide a dedicated space for hosts to focus on COVID discussions. As you can imagine we were flooded with COVID conversations, questions and worry from hosts. By doing this we were able to centralise all COVID - related questions and discussions, ensuring swift and accurate responses, as well as ensure other areas of the community were free for other relevant content and engagement.

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Supporting Hosts Through Online Listening Sessions

We introduced frequent listening sessions to come back to hosts on concerns or questions they had asked in the community. The sessions were also a great way to have honest discussions about how hosts were feeling in relation to our product and policy updates related to COVID-19 and also propose future ideas. With so much changing on a daily basis across the world, it was important we updated hosts regularly and gave them the opportunity to connect with their fellow hosts.


Social Meetups to Tackle Loneliness and Isolation

We introduced weekly socials throughout lockdown. Many of our members had raised their fears over being isolated and lonely, so we wanted to use the great spirit of our community to tackle this.  We had a weekly theme and were never short of content! From silly hats, to crafting to one host holding an online cookalong class! These are now continuing on a bi-weekly basis going forward.


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#Discover Series

During the most significant phase of global lockdown, we started a content series called Discover. Hosts have created guides in the CC highlighting their local area, sharing photos and little hidden gems. It was a great way for members to feel like they were traveling and learning about new places when travel wasn’t possible. and it is also a great way to attract new guests at the next available opportunity.


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3. What success metrics did you use to determine if your shifts in strategy and process had the desired outcomes? What were those quantifiable outcomes?


Our primary success metric was our goal of housing 100,000 health workers safely to tackle COVID-19. We are thrilled to report that we reached this target in less than two weeks thanks to our amazing host community.

Overall Community Metrics

We are  proud that our community has weathered the storm of COVID-19. With hosting on hold, we expected a significant drop in traffic but Q2 results still showed meaningful levels of activity. 

Page views: 4.5m 

Posts: 36k 

New members: 24k


Such a great story! It just goes to show you can't stop a community with a purpose!

Thanks @JacobBo, you're right there! We're glad you enjoyed reading the story.