Within Airbnb’s business-to-business market there is a need for the hosts to increasingly share knowledge and get information from one another. One-to-one communication with the company is nowadays old-fashioned and over and is changing towards online peer-to-peer communication. (Beltman & Peelen, 2013) This will increase the number of long-term relationships between the hosts and Airbnb and the engagement of the hosts with Airbnb as a brand. Airbnb’s community centre supports the maintenance and development of these relationships. According to research existing (business) customers are more profitable due to the less needed amount of effort and money. So it is valuable to create loyalty, commitment and engagement with your brand. (Cremers, 2013)
Brand communities, such as Airbnb’s community centre, consist of three basic principles:
- Shared consciousness or commitment with others within the community.
- Rituals and traditions.
- The feeling of moral responsibility to the community members.
Due to all the online, internet related innovations brand communities became more and better accessible due to the always and everywhere connectedness of the members. The internet provides the infrastructure for the improvement and development of activities within the community, increases the reach of the community, makes the communication more effective and provides additional opportunities for interaction between the members. In short, the internet makes it possible for online brand communities to exist.
For a B2B brand community such as Airbnb’s community centre it is important to involve people throughout the entire organisation. Because they can all on an individual basis affect the commitment within and effectiveness of the community. The final goal of this kind of community is brand loyalty; this means that in this case the host will continue to offer his accommodation through the channels of Airbnb. (Cremers, 2013)
The main goal of Airbnb’s community centre is to engage accommodation owners with each other. To achieve this goal these owners can share stories with each other, can ask for advice and will receive more general updates from the Airbnb team. This kind of platform is of course also very beneficial for Airbnb because of the gained knowledge about their business ‘’customers’’.
Due to this gained knowledge Airbnb’s community centre is able to personalize some parts such as highlighting relevant conversations based on among other things the used language and the location, also popular tips, topics and responses are easy to find within the platform. The community centre is a huge success among the accommodation owners and daily tons of questions are asked and advice is given by their fellow owners. A way to further engage these owners to one another is by the self-organised and world-wide meetups. (Airbnb, 2016)
A company that can learn from this best practice is an indirect competitor of Airbnb named Wimdu. They connect their guests and hosts with each other worldwide but yet don’t connect on a business-to-business level such as Airbnb. This is a missed opportunity because nowadays it is important to create engagement throughout all the parties. Loyalty, commitment and engagement are key elements in the current touristic industry.
Airbnb. (2016). Wat is het Airbnb Community Centrum? Retrieved from https://www.airbnb.nl/help/article/1183/what-is-the-airbnb-community-center
Beltman, R., & Peelen, E. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (2nd ed.). Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Cremers, M. (2013). Online brand communities voor B2B: theorie en praktijk. Retrieved from https://www.heuvelmarketing.com/blog/bid/86587/online-brand-communities-voor-b2b-theorie-en-praktijk